Networking is a fundamental component to career advancement and taking the time to establish professional connections can provide you with a competitive edge. Research suggests that approximately 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking.
To shed some light on the matter, we teamed up with entrepreneur and philanthropist, Atkinson Prakash Charan. Atkinson Prakash Charan is one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs. As a successful businessman, Atkinson Prakash Charan knows how uncomfortable it can be to step into a room and introduce yourself to a stranger, so he provides his best practices to help you do just that.
Atkinson Prakash Charan suggests starting with who you know. Whether it feels like it or not, you have been networking your whole life. From the people you went to school with, worked your first job with, and met through mutual friends, these are connections you can leverage when you start your networking journey.
If you are looking to network with individuals in a specific industry, try reaching out to people you know who have worked in that field. More often than not, they will either point you in the right direction or set you up with someone who can. Atkinson Prakash Charan explains that you should not be afraid to do this, as most people appreciate being approached for career advice and direction.
Utilise Social Media
For those of us who are afraid of in-person networking, getting started on social media is a great way to get yourself comfortable with the idea. From LinkedIn to Instagram and Twitter, there are several platforms that can familiarise other people with who you are and what you do. Atkinson Prakash Charan also explains that these platforms can serve as an educational opportunity, providing you with insight into who the key players in your industry are. It also allows you to showcase your industry knowledge on these platforms, sharing relevant advice, articles and resources.
Attend Industry Specific Events
Sometimes making connections is as easy as a friend making an introduction. One way to put yourself out there is to consider what industry events you might be able to attend. Atkinson Prakash Charan explains that if you are in the arts, consider attending auctions or gallery openings to make yourself known. If you are interested in a publishing career, seek out book conventions, signings, and launches. Even if you do not yet have the courage to speak to strangers, it allows your face to become familiar to others in your industry.
Ask Important Questions
Lastly, when you are ready to be introduced to someone, or are able to approach someone unprompted, remember one key thing: it does not need to be about you. Atkinson Prakash Charan explains that some of us get nervous when we feel we have to sell ourselves and our interests to other, but you want to primarily focus on the other person. Ask questions about the event you are attending, how they got involved in this industry, and how they feel about key industry changes. This is a great way to open up a conversation with a key networking opportunity. But do not be afraid to walk away from a prospect that you do not feel will have a benefit to you. Kindly thank them for their time, tell them to enjoy their evening, and politely walk away to your next prospect.