When I used to think of networking, I thought of a large, stuffy room, absolutely full of people, trying to navigate through the crowd, then make awkward small talk with someone who I may or may not have anything in common with. This sounds uncomfortable and not something I would want to engage in. While big events are still a way to network, they are not the only way to meet people. We live in a world where everything we could ever want, and anyone we might want to interact with, is a very simple click of a button (or app!) away. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn… they are the new ways to network.
You might be asking yourself, why do I need to network?
Well, you have probably heard the saying, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’, and I also heard someone once say that ‘your net worth is your network’ and that has always really stuck with me. Without a network of friends or colleagues, even the smartest person alive wouldn’t get anywhere in their career.
You might find yourself relying on your network for help with a job application, finding you the job in the first place, or simply for advice on how to get started with your career. Connections are arguably what makes the difference between a good career and a great one. Who you know will get you further that what you know.
So, how do you build your network?
I should point out, that I learnt all this from J Kelly Hoey who is an expert on all things networking and her social media is definitely worth having a look at to find out more as well as her podcasts! I listened to her talk while I was doing a virtual internship a few weeks ago, and one of the things that stood out the most was her quote, “Twitter is the world’s cocktail party; be a good guest.” Twitter, and other social media platforms, have replaced the way we network. With Twitter, you don’t have to physically track down someone you want to connect with, you can find everything you need to know within seconds. A lot of industry professionals will have twitter accounts or Instagram accounts that are public, and anyone can follow and engage with their posts. Obviously, the more successful someone is, the more followers the are likely to have, which is why you need to make sure you stand out on their feed or in their notifications.
Like, retweet, share and comment! Make sure your comments are genuine though, and that you’re not just spamming them with generic comments. You will find that just by following and engaging with people who either work for the company you have your eye on, or work in a position that would be your dream job, you will learn a lot and get an insight into what their day to day lives are like. This might come in use as you will learn things about the job that the company won’t have on its website.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, reach out to them privately. In the same way that you would perhaps send out cold emails to companies you want to work for, message individuals on Twitter or Instagram. Ask them about how they got their job, how they got into the industry, etc…
These little things will soon add up and before you know it, you will have created a network of industry professionals!
Personally, I have found that the best accounts to engage with on social media are people of a similar age and in a similar situation career wise. As J Kelly Hoey explained, networking with older, more professional people is great, but they probably can’t help you that much as their experiences are completely different to the ones you will have. The people who can help you though, are your peers. Like-minded people with similar goals and motivations are the people to go to.
Personally, when I started blogging, I was amazed at how willing fellow bloggers were to help out and lend advice. More recently, as part of The Notable team, I have reached out to various people with successful careers who have been more than happy to talk to me. You will have heard this before no doubt, but there is no harm in asking.
You never know who might be able to open the doors for you – the doors that you can’t quite open yourself. Follow people, engage with people and show up to that Twitter party because you never know who you might meet!