Totum recently hosted an event designed to provide insights into strategies that will help build and harness the power of your professional network. The event was held at Howard Kennedy’s London office, an ideal setting looking out of the River Thames and the City.

Our guest speaker was Kelly Hoey, author of the book Build Your Dream Network. Kelly has an interesting career within the legal sector – she was previously an Associate based in the United States, before moving into professional development and alumni roles at a global firm. She has since moved away from the legal sector, and now primarily focusses on helping people develop their networks.

The session was fairly informal, with Totum’s Rebecca Ellis and Kelly having a discussion around networking, with members of the audience invited to ask Kelly questions as and when they wanted.

Changing landscape

 

The conversation started with a discussion on why people find it so hard to network, and the way in which social media has changed this:

  • Dealing within other people can create a ‘fear’ in some, especially when networking is seen as a necessity.
  • However, every communication and interaction with someone is a form of networking, even an initial email or phone call.
  • With social media, it is also now possible to create a first impression of yourself without engaging via more traditional methods. This is both an opportunity and challenge – for example, it’s important to be conscious of what appears when your name is entered into search engines.

Tips for success

 

The discussion also focused on networking to further your career. The following are some of the highlights:

  • Before you start networking, know which direction you want your career to take, and spend time thinking about which groups and individuals you need to network with who could help get you there.
  • With regards to using social media to network, spend time finding out which channels your clients appear on, and how they are engaging with these platforms – share information across channels if needs be.
  • A source such as LinkedIn enables you to connect to someone you don’t know but allows you to tailor invites to connect – make sure you do this so you can provide context, as you can form powerful relationships without meeting someone face to face.
  • Don’t overlook the power of colleagues and building both an internal and external network.
  • Build relationships with people who are different to you, not just those who you share the same interests with.

Kelly concluded by reminding us that the number one networking mistake that people make is failure to follow up: ensure that you write that email/make the call or even add someone on social media. Communication is key.

When people think about networking, they can still think of rather forced business get-togethers, which suit some personalities more than others. These can still form an important pillar in a good networking strategy but they are far from the only one. With today’s many communication channels, we have far more networking choices – the key is to understand and make the most of them.

With thanks to Kelly Hoey for her time and hugely interesting insights into benefitting from today’s many networking opportunities.

KJ

 

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