The Art of Networking | Stephen Chapendama
The Art of Networking
2020 needs to be the year of building bridges and making connections. After university, you will find that the easiest and most fruitful way to navigate the professional world is through networking. Platforms such as BYP have filled this gap regularly through events such as the recent Xmas in Wakanda event, but in 2019 how can you leverage a network such as BYP to your advantage into your field? Networking in your field can be advantageous to career growth, career opportunities and also discovering new connections who may help you later on in your career.
Let’s start from the beginning, how do people hear about events? Because more often we are hearing about events after they've finished or when tickets have sold out. How do you stay ahead of the curve? Newsletters are a start! They aren't all spam surprisingly. It’s very easy however for our inboxes to become flooded with emails however so, for some Twitter has been the best way to find out about events. It’s also a great informal networking tool after events to connect with people who you may have met at the event and who you may also attend future events with. It is also worthwhile to follow some companies you might be interested in working for. You will find quite a lot of companies now host regular events which also gives you the perfect opportunity to go network with people who may already work there, view the offices and also ask questions about the company culture.
But I don’t know what events to go to?
Knowing where your passion lies helps, but sometimes we are looking for new experiences or exploring different fields. Attending events can seem daunting, I regularly attend tech-themed events and eventually, you start seeing familiar faces and it’s always a good conversation starter if you recognise someone from a previous event. Showing interest will help you build networks, so asking questions if you are interested in what they do will also help them remember you. Joining communities will also help you take your networking to the next step.
Sometimes, professionally you might be looking at a career change and have questions - what’s a better way than to ask the people already invested in that field? You can join industry-specific communities such as New Gen Accountants for those interested in careers in finance or pursuing industry-standard qualifications or Foundervine for those interested in the diverse startup community and are looking for other like-minded individuals. You will find these communities throw regular events and are often very inclusive. For example, Muslamic Makers, organise a monthly meet-up bringing Muslims and non-Muslim makers together to discuss and share ideas.
Okay, I’ve met people at events, how do I maintain the network?
There’s a saying, “you don’t plant a seed and eat the fruit on the same day.” It also applies to networking - sometimes we have to nurture the relationship, be it passively or regular interactions on LinkedIn & other social media. If you attend a professional event and meet someone you think will be a great connection at a different chapter in your professional life, you can passively keep the network alive by the occasional message or congrats when they find a new job. Perhaps meeting for coffee at the end of the year to catch up, or if you see you are attending the same event, let them know before and try to meet up.
By Stephen Chapendama (@Stevenchap)