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Making connections – the secret to networking

09 February, 2024 Reading: 3:33 mins

Experts like Harvard Business Review confirm that people who network more often land opportunities: interesting projects, better jobs, new clients.

Making connections – the secret to networking

We all know we should network more but many of us tend to put it at the bottom of our to do list; some feel like it’s fake, embarrassing or perhaps a waste of time. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your career – it’s always good to practise your networking skills. According to Forbes, 85% of job vacancies are filled via networking connections and a recent HubSpot survey found that 85% of professionals consider networking to be important to their career success and we agree.

At KISS we’re firm believers in the many benefits of networking so that’s one of the reasons we’re sponsoring Conexen – an informal networking and speaker event in Cambridge for professionals working in pharma, life sciences, medical devices and health tech.

Ahead of the first event this month, we asked our MD, Sarah for her tips on networking like a pro

“I’m not someone who naturally loves networking, and I often have to push myself to get out there. So first of all I’d say, pick events focused on areas you’re passionate about; in my case things like the Judge Business School's Women in Leadership events and the PROI's network of agency owners. That should mean you want to go, have plenty to talk about and the people are those who you really want to meet. It should also mean they want to know you because you have things in common.”

  1. Remember that you will almost certainly learn something from the networking event itself or someone you meet
    Do a bit of digging about who’s coming along and make a short list of the top 3-5 people you want to meet. Prepare a quick list of topics to talk about, maybe questions to ask people.

  2. Know your pitch
    Have your personal and business elevator pitches ready – it can help summarise the value you and your company bring. Networking is mutually beneficial so also think about how you can help, offer your expertise or even make an in introduction.

  3. Follow up
    Don’t waste opportunities and connections – connect over social channels or via email and maintain the conversation.

  4. Opportunities can come from literally anywhere
    Neighbours, friends of friends, running buddies... You never know where a connection could be made, so look to the obvious networks you’re already in and make the most of those. These can be anything: hobbies, sports clubs, schools, religious groups... Of course, you don’t want to interrupt a pint, or a park run to pitch to someone for a job, but there are loads of great ways to make the most of these networks.

How can I help?

It's often worth flipping the narrative, so instead of putting the burden on yourself, think of ways you might help someone you meet. It will be a longer list than you think: from looking over a CV to making a call, connecting people for mutual benefit, helping someone talk through a problem, collaboration… there are many ways you might be of use to someone and when networking you should try to keep ‘how can I help?’ front of mind more than ‘here’s a possible client’.

And on a final note, according to Sarah, “30 years of networking has taught me to go with my passions. It’s also showed me one thing above all: as long as you maintain your network it’ll help you more and more as time goes by. Over the years networking has enabled me to find jobs that weren’t advertised, land opportunities, tap into support when I really needed it and be invited to do fascinating things. I have contacts from over 20 years ago that I still chat to, and some who’ve become firm friends.”

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