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The importance of networking: how business events can lead to new opportunities

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Nowadays, social media seems to be a dominant way to communicate. However, a more traditional method of communication might be more valuable than connecting with someone online and never speaking to them. Networking is a good option for anyone looking for newness and freshness in their career or studies. Being involved in business and industry events is a great way to do this; it can open your eyes to more refined ways of seeing yourself personally and professionally. It also creates long and lasting relationships based on trust; the power of word-of-mouth has always been so important.

Interestingly, even though technology contributes to helping us exchange information without the need to meet face to face, the need for physical events hasn’t changed; in fact they’ve been sorely missed over the past few years as the pandemic prevented us from meeting. So why do we crave in-person events and meetings when the tech is there? The reason is the added value we get by interacting with people from different backgrounds when we can see them.

Networking online is an added benefit, but it’s not the same as meeting people out and about. Going to an event usually requires a lot more active work, online you can listen to speakers and discussions, but with cameras off and no one sat next to you, that opportunity to network isn’t the same. In a conversation, both parties must commit to sharing their experiences for mutual benefit, which is easier to do when they’re in front of you.

We are always networking, even when we don’t think we are. This happened to me. After getting involved in several business events, being open minded and treating every conversation as an opportunity, I saw results. Last November I joined an APM event and had the chance to speak with an NHS project director. We had an interesting chat in which we shared experiences, values, and plans for the future; he asked me if I was interested in being part of his team. After completing the interview process successfully, I was hired as a PMO administrator. Thanks to my previous experiences and getting to know him, I was more confident and optimistic during the whole process; plus I wouldn’t have known about the opportunity if I hadn’t spoken to him.

Eventually, the best chances don’t come by accident but under careful planning; by going to an APM event and networking, I ended up landing a job. My little tips below can increase your chance of expanding your network, being valued as a potential candidate and bringing you a step closer to your dream job.

Tips for making the most of networking opportunities:

  • To fully understand the potential of networking, you should have an open mindset. You never know who you could meet and what they can offer you. If you treat every conversation as an important one, it may just change your career.
  • It’s important to have a clear view of your present and future goals, making the conversation more engaging and meaningful from your perspective and allowing the other party to understand the value you could add to them and their organisation.
  • Choose an event based on your interests so that you can make the best of your time. Also knowing who will be at the event can help you connect with relevant people, facilitating a future partnership. APM has many events starting soon, so you can meet all sorts of people within the project management community.
  • Be confident and just say hello. It can be daunting to meet new people, but they’re a person just like you. If you know a bit about them (because you did your research on the event) then it can be easier, if you don’t, then put on a smile, ask them about themselves and you’ll be chatting away, networking, in no time.

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