We’ve all heard about the importance of networking. But it tends to be associated mainly with meeting new business contacts to seek out more work. You know the sort of thing – people arrive at an event, have breakfast and chat, hear a speaker, then have another coffee and chat more, usually swapping business cards or earmarking others for future contact.
But should we also be considering the merits of networking when you are looking to find a new employer? The answer is positively ‘yes’. As someone who does a lot of business networking, I have met many impressive people. Were they to be on the jobs market, they would certainly have raised their profile and put themselves firmly in the shop window.
The benefits to networking
Networking is a two-way thing. Mixing in the right circles puts you on the map but it is also about demonstrating your knowledge, passion, creativity, understanding, enthusiasm and willingness to help people in a two-way relationship. Word quickly spreads about your profile. The chances are you will be invited to other events and so the networking widens and becomes even more effective.
It is not everybody’s cup of tea and many find it difficult but the more people you know, the easier it gets as there is always someone in that room who you can talk to initially – the initial ice-breaker.
Networking helps you expand your range of contacts and that has to be a positive benefit for your future career prospects too. But it is also about broadening your knowledge base and strengthening your overall understanding of your specialist sector. It isn’t just about putting yourself out there as a job-searching candidate.
Networking groups in Peterborough
So what networking groups operate in Peterborough and how do you tap into them?
- Opportunity Peterborough Bondholders Breakfast: This event is held bi-monthly at different venues around the city and tends to attract 200 businessmen and women. But your company must register to be a bondholder and that is £100 a year which allows up to two delegates to attend the breakfast meeting. You will also get a monthly newsletter sharing business news; a listing in their members directory; you can access the Jobs Board; write a blog or share information.
- Peterborough Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber holds a range of networking events from informal sessions through to more structured events plus a number of seminars which all offer excellent opportunities to network. Attendees tend to be from smaller companies (SMEs) generally but not always.
- The Business Network: This is a formal monthly lunchtime meeting for senior decision makers within local businesses. This is part of a national organisation. They run events, exhibitions and other social gatherings.
- BNI: This is another business network group that allows just one representative from each profession to attend each meeting. Invariably it is a weekly breakfast get together. There is an annual cost to join BNI plus a registration fee.
- Sector groups: Depending which area of business you work in, there will be a professional or trade association that usually meets on a regular basis. For instance, if you are in HR, you may want to be involved with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. They have a local group that meets on a regular basis and it attracts the key local decision makers in the world of HR. There will be similar groups for different specialisms – whether that is the Institute of Directors; Institute of Management; Chartered Institute of Marketing; or Chartered Institute of Public Relations – the list goes on. All you need to do is Google your sector, find your local group, join and start networking.
- Online networks: Sometimes there are online networking groups that can also prove useful. The obvious one is LinkedIn but follow the link below to get a list of 20 that could enable you to raise your profile among the kind of decision makers who could be part of your future career development.
Networking doesn’t always have to revolve around formal groups however. Keep in touch with all your Facebook friends and contacts on LinkedIn. Meet for lunch occasionally. Talk to old business acquaintances on the phone.
It’s all networking – keeping your name and profile out there. You may be surprised what opportunities fall into your lap.
Remember that old golf saying: The more you practice the luckier you seem to get!