Expanding Professional Circles - The Importance of Networking
“It’s all about who you know”
We’ve all heard the phrase that it’s all about who you know, but is it really a phrase, or just one of the best tips you can be given in life? I’d say it’s one of the most useful pieces of life advice you could probably receive, whether it’s your friend group or a network of people who can help you when you need it. Who you know is what genuinely shapes your life and has such an impact for you as a person.
If you surround yourself with the wrong people, well, that may not end well for you (we have a lot of TV shows that depict the consequences quite well), instead, aim to be in the company of those who can bring positivity into your life and you should strive to be an equally positive impact on their life.
“What’s in it for me” is another common phrase you’ll always see in TV shows, people doing favours for a favour, but that’s how life works! It’s all about give and take, keeping a balance and helping each other out in this world. We always talk about what others can do for us, which is always great, such as having a friend who can help me get amazing discounts where they work. They can help me through certain problems I could be facing on a professional level, but what can I do for them?
“What’s the point you’re trying to make Aaron?” I’m getting there! Networking and expanding your professional circles is all about what I’ve mentioned, finding the right people who can help you, but you can also help them! I’ll be exploring the importance of networking, where you can network, and how you should approach networking, and keeping everything I’ve said so far in mind will help you with your networking powers. As always, I’ll use being a software developer as an example for approaching networking, but no matter what field you’re in, everything I say can apply to you!
The Importance of Networking
Imagine finding yourself in a great position where someone inquires about your journey, and you can confidently say, 'It's all about the connections I've made.' That’s the dream right there. But have you ever wondered why this advice holds so much value and isn't just a cliché to deflect questions about your success? I guess that when you've achieved something amazing, it's only natural to want to share it with others. So, 'who you know' must carry significant meaning!
Let’s just take a software developer looking for IT jobs in Dublin, who you know is SO important. There are so many highly experienced recruiters in top recruitment agencies in Ireland, with so many incredible jobs. Building this network could be very valuable as you will have so many more job opportunities to consider when you build a good rapport with recruiters who trust you and know your skills.
This is only one example of how important networking can be, with so many opportunities that can manifest from putting yourself out there! One of my friends is amazing at networking and the meetings and events he’s invited to as a management consultant are just phenomenal! Meeting some of the most influential people in the world and people he can help with his service is bringing in more revenue for him. Networking should be such a high priority for everybody in professional roles, but where can I network to build my professional circle?
Where Can I Network?
You know networking is a serious business when I’m not making as many jokes as I usually do in my blogs, so let’s talk about where we can network. The answer is, everywhere. Yes, everywhere, but this doesn’t mean going down to the pub every evening and trying to claim your networking because you’re talking to strangers hoping they’re the CEO of a massive company and can get you a high-paying role. You meet the odd person on a night out that can be a great addition to your professional network don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some very talented developers and business owners on nights out, but not enough to consider that an efficient way of networking (not in a professional sense anyways…) So where can you network?
LinkedIn, attending industry events, conferences, seminars and so many more ways can help you gain a new perspective and ideas on how you work and people here that can help you reach the next level in your professional work! LinkedIn has so many groups to join that can offer cool tricks to make your life easier, collaborators who organise events that will help you get started in networking, and these people know people so it can be a huge snowball of networking that can expand your professional circle so quickly. Attending in-person events related to your field can be so valuable to getting to know people, as connecting on LinkedIn will only get you so far in your relationships.
If there’s an event that you think can connect you with like-minded people and thought leaders in the industry, definitely consider going. Platforms such as Meetup are a great source for this as they send you alerts about events happening every week that might spark your interest.
Where to network is definitely not rocket science, it’s just about researching when events are being organised and showing up. Now, how do you approach networking when you take this step of showing up?
How To Approach Networking
“I want a tech job in Ireland, give me one, pretty please.” Probably isn’t the best way to go about networking with somebody who could potentially help you out. As my wonderful Marketing Manager, Nam, as well as myself and many other people know, networking is a two-way street. What can you offer them? You’ve probably done the hard part by striking up a conversation with somebody and by the way, people are also there to get talking so don’t be afraid to approach anyone, but what does a conversation with people then look like? You simply can’t make it about how they can help you! You need to be able to offer value to who you’re talking to as you “get what you give”, another great phrase for the blog.
Share relevant industry information, like how developers are feeling right now with regards to the nature of the industry, the rise of AI or even offer to make introductions to some people in your network that may help them, even if they can’t help you at the moment as “what goes around comes around” (I’m on the ball today). As well as this, you can simply offer your own advice and expertise to people if they have an issue you know you can help with, as you should trust your own ability to be helpful to people in your industry! Doing this will position you as thought leader in their mind. Draw from experiences and share insights. People really appreciate authentic information.
When attending in person networking events, also consider your body language, and others too. For example, if two people are talking, and their bodies are open and facing out, then walk on over and jump into the conversation. If two people are facing each other, square, then leave them at it. Try to show confidence, shoulders back, head up, and smile. People will warm to you and you will have better conversations.
People are so much more inclined to help you out when you’ve helped them, so definitely keep this in mind and it is great for building a healthy and long-lasting relationship that can be so helpful in the future. Even with some friends I’ve made, I gave them a lift to a match, we gradually became friends and we help each other out when we need help!
I covered the basis of what you can do to get out there to meet the right people, and it gives you an opportunity to make a name for yourself as you can help others. Networking will always be such a pivotal part of everyone’s professional journey, so definitely make the most of it!
I hope this blog was helpful and you enjoyed it and maybe one day we will meet at a networking event, you never know!
If you do have any questions as well, please don’t be afraid to get in touch, I’m here to help. Hope you enjoyed this and happy hunting!