How much networking do you actually do?

What kind of networking will work and when?

How important do you consider your network? 

How does networking improve what I do and how I do it?

These are all questions that any professional should be asking themselves as networking is massively important to supporting your professional development, making contacts, learning from others and having a trusted circle of fellow professionals who will share what they know with you. It's this collective intelligence that really makes me open to all sorts of networking opportunities and whilst I'm an introvert and probably prefer online communication, face to face is of course the primary way in which  networking takes place and is most people's preferred method of meeting.

Social technologies liked the DPG Community and LinkedIn do offer the ability to connect with people online and I've met people through this Community and built relationships purely online and when we have met face to face it's been like meeting old friends so online networking is still a viable and interesting way to meet people, develop relationships and crowd surf information quickly and easily. You can take a look at our post on over in the Becoming a Smarter Learner group on the importance building a personal learning network.

Your connections here in the DPG Community are called your Personal Learning Network and you can connect with those in your groups and the wider community via people's profiles.

It can take some getting used to and building your confidence to reach out and connect with others is something that takes time, likewise it can feel a bit uncomfortable going to face to face events where you don't know anyone and meeting people in that sort of environments. Events like L&D Connect and the Social HR Conference are great places to meet new people and learn new things and most of the CIPD conferences have areas to meet new people in a 'speed dating style' which can be fun. 

Like anything it takes time to build strong and fruitful relationships, you get out what you put in from any networking event and then the hard work of cultivating those relationships begins. This again is where online can really help as once you've met face to face you may not get the opportunity to meet again for some time. If they are on Twitter or LinkedIn you can keep the conversation going which helps you stay in touch and keep connected. 

You don't even need to meet someone to benefit from their knowledge as there are so many blogs from industry leading think tanks and practitioners that there is rich and vibrant L&D / HR community out there that you can tap in to, learn from and become better at what you do.

This two part post from Training Zone caught my eye today hence this post and I'll post part two when it's published.

Networking Tips for Trainers - part one

The ability to connect with others, meeting and sharing with other like minded professionals and attending events has helped shape my development in L&D and is responsible for what I'm doing now. It has introduced me to new ideas and given me confidence to try new things and share my experiences with others. 

I truly value my social networks and I value the face to face time I get to spend with my fellow professionals and friends. 

So what's your experience of networking?

What sorts of things do you do?

Is it an area you need to get better at?

What are the barriers or challenges you find?

I'd value your thoughts in the subject

Mike 

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Replies

  • Came across this resource on networking that you might find useful

  • Hi Mike

    Running your own business your networks are vital.  Not only those you meet at traditional face to face networking events, but the networks you develop over the course of your career, and of course social media networks. 

    In terms of traditional networking my experience is that it is a slow burn process and don't expect to sell to the room.  For me it is much more a case of building strong relationships and establishing your credibility as an HR professional.  I attend several networking events a week mainly breakfast groups so it still leaves me free for the day.  Also I would encourage people to get involved I am on the committee for at least two of my network groups and one of the groups I also chair.

    I would also recommend the CIPD events in terms of building networks with other HR professionals.  In fact it was at such an event that I met a DPG facilitator who highly recommended DPG as a Company to work with!

    I agree with Helen in terms of social media it depends on your approach I initially shied away from this as I did not feel very confident in this area, but I am now on Twitter and my LinkedIn networks are invaluable.  Facebook I have steered clear of it just did not appeal to me.  I also arrange lots of 1 to 1s through my LinkedIn network to meet face to face (which is my preferred networking style). 

    My advice is find what works for you and dive in nothing ventured nothing gained! 

    • Thanks Sarah I agree - you don't know what you don't know and until you try it you don't know what works for you or the value that networks can create.

      Great to hear it was a CIPD event where you heard of DPG - great example of value right there lol :)

  • When I first went freelance, networking was something that if I'm honest, filled me with dread. It still isn't something that comes naturally to me but I'm starting to learn the ropes. I have found the on-line DPG Community really helpful in expanding my knowledge areas and it has given me the confidence to write blogs, something I have found I really enjoy. I recently joined Twitter which I am finding much more helpful than I thought I would and am on Linked-In. I attend some face-to-face networking events and tend to focus on other people and learn about them (as a coach I am naturally curious!), so I don't feel like I'm going with any set agenda. I am also quite selective about what I attend, which isn’t based just on the choice of biscuits! ;-)

    I think one barrier to networking is there is no ‘one’ guide on how to do it, especially Twitter, which seems to have lots of different rules! I think I need to improve on reading up about on-line networking tools rather than launching straight in - I like the story about the wood cutter Julie Drybrough refers to in her blog. One of the downsides of on-line networking is that mistakes can be very public and spread quickly e.g. the mix up on Twitter when David Attenborough was reported to have passed away when it was actually his brother Richard). All in all though I think it is the way forward, provided on-line networking doesn’t take over the world and we still have time to sit up and smell the roses!

    • And me Helen - I still get very nervous meeting people for the first time in a networking situation. I think this is why I prefer social tools to make contact and to connect with people. I find they are less intrusive and everyone is on the same level. I think as Sarah mentions you have got to find what works for you and the more things you do whether it's face to face or online the more confident you become and the more you can get out of them.

      It's great to see you contributing as a blogger as Sarah mentions again being a 'credible HR professional' is hugely important, blogging for me helps establish that credibility as you're sharing what you know and people can associate you with knowledge/experience/ and the fact you share what you know and/or challenge people to think. I also think your online presence is part of your personal brand and could be the first thing (and last if not done well) that people see of you and decide "is this person someone I can work with" quite quickly. Employers themselves will check social accounts routinely as part of the recruitment process so it's something that everyone needs to be aware of.

      Looking forward to reading your next blog btw ;)

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