Anyone! No-one has a crystal ball to know what contacts might prove most fruitful in the future, so see everyone as a potential contact. However, we would recommend building ongoing, quality connections with people as the value of networking does not always come from just the quantity of people you know.
Build a rapport with someone, then begin to foster that relationship by checking in and catching up as often as possible.
It really isn't about re-inventing the wheel. Put simply (by Google):
'the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.'
Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and send connection requests to people you meet/work with on a daily basis.
We all have busy lives, so let's keep it simple – companies (such as DWF) put on events for the exact purpose of networking. Choose one (or more) that sounds appealing and sign up or register your interest.
Engage in networking groups
Sign up to the DWF Young Professionals newsletter, engage with content on LinkedIn such as the DWF Young Professionals group and consider signing up to be part of your university alumni. Our top tip would be just get involved - the opportunities are there and it's up to you to make the most of them.
Connecting with other young professionals allows for synergy. Building a network of contacts will also help you keep up to date with market trends and opportunities - it's a space for sharing common interests.
We recommend these top tips from DWF's Emerging Talent team:
- The best networkers are good listeners – be reactive, show genuine interest and ask interesting questions.
- Be relaxed and be yourself, after all you can't be anyone else!
- Be confident – think about your body language and make eye contact.
- If you're attending an event, it's a good idea to have thought of some initial strategies for networking, in advance, e.g. think of some good conversation starters and be sure not to exclude anyone and remember to get contact details to stay in touch.
Networking in a virtual world
We also need to consider the 'new normal' in relation to our approach to networking. Currently we are all extremely restricted in terms of being able to network with our clients and contacts in a face to face environment and need to maximise the virtual options available:
- Arrange virtual coffee meetings using video where possible to recreate that face to face experience.
- Attend local/business community webinars and virtual events – often these events will have virtual networking sections which will enable you to 'work the virtual room'.
- Make sure you have a presence during these events, ensure you are always camera ready.
- Increase your online presence and join relevant social media groups to keep up to date with virtual events.
Whether in a face to face or a virtual environment, networking is extremely important to ensure you are constantly creating and building relationships to generate personal and business opportunities for growth. Please look out for invitations to our young professionals events which provide an excellent opportunity to increase your contact base.