Networking has never been so accessible. It doesn’t always make it easy, but it does mean that growing and maintaining a professional network, one that creates access to all kinds of opportunities, is perfectly achievable with a little work.
As recruitment specialists, we know first-hand that networking is a catalyst for career success. For some, making an impression in a room (virtual or otherwise) of strangers is a dread-inducing no-go, whereas others rejoice at the opportunity.
Even if you fall into the former category, there are plenty of straightforward ways to effectively grow and maintain your professional network. Why would you want to? Because it enables career development, knowledge sharing, personal brand management, increased visibility, and if you’re looking for a new job, a greater number of options.
A good network is a support system. Here’s how to build yours.
Starting at the most obvious (and likely hardest in many respects), you won’t grow your network if you’re not talking to people. For many, reaching out ends up being easier than they first thought.
Typically, people enjoy being reached out to on account of their expertise – go to LinkedIn, find your prospective connection, personalise your message, tell them why you think they’re awesome, why that’s relevant to you, and you’ve started the conversation.
Remember to keep it professional, and it shouldn’t have to be more than a few sentences. LinkedIn even has some templates you can use on their site: Here. Customisation is key, so make sure you do a bit of research before you send your message.
Build Your Brand
Your brand is your differentiator, the version of you that the public perceives, and the platform you need to sell skillsets to your network. You can build this brand in a few ways, one of the more effective methods being to offer your unique insight into the space you specialise in.
How? Writing about it, sharing posts with your comments, commenting on other posts, podcasting, and establishing an online presence across multiple platforms can help.
A strong personal brand creates inbound network leads, and it also helps you discover a broader range of relevant connections.
Personal branding isn’t just about growth, it helps you maintain your network once you’ve built it out. If your network enjoys hearing from you, it’s your responsibility to make yourself heard.
Since the COVID restrictions eased up, we haven’t been able to move for events. Many of them are free, most of them have ideas to explore, and all of them represent a chance to network. Even if there’s no dedicated networking on the agenda, as an attendee, you can still reach out to anyone involved with an extra string to your bow.
That said, most corporate events are indeed hotspots for networking – that’s what the majority of attendees have gone along for, so next time you’re confined to silence in the corner of the room, it’s worth remembering that people are looking to make connections, just like you.
Meetup is a great site for finding networking initiatives nearby, as are Eventbrite and LinkedIn Groups. Specify your location and area of interest (life sciences for us) and have a look at the latest events.
A good tip is to get your LinkedIn QR code set up on your phone so your fellow attendees can connect with you from a quick scan. There’s some guidance on how to do it here.
Networks need maintenance in a sense, and it demands that you make yourself visible. Hopping online and commenting on various posts can help you boost that visibility, but ultimately, you need to show that you care and that you’re accessible.
Whether this involves arranging a virtual coffee or becoming a mentor, making yourself aware of what’s happening in your network’s orbit is a must. Growing and maintaining a network isn’t focused on sales, it’s focused on building meaningful, lasting relationships. In most cases, this means adding a much-needed human touch to your communication.
Conduct an Audit
It’s good to take a step back from your network building from time to time and conduct an audit of what’s in front of you. This helps you keep your best connections on the radar (and it may inspire a social media spring clean).
At BioTalent, we thrive by leaning on our extensive network. We love forming new connections and exploring the infinite possibilities they come with. We know that networks are an essential part of today’s working world, and we’re always happy to meet new people.
If you’d like to connect, reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. Whether you want to discover career opportunities, you need advice on how to make yourself an even stronger candidate, or you just want to chat about all things life sciences, we’re here to help.
Alternatively, you can contact the team here to learn more about our diversity-focused recruitment services.