Week 5: Women and SET – Finding support – networking (III)

Other things to think of when networking:

The Royal Society of Chemistry has specific advice on networking for women in the members only section of its website. This covers topics such as ‘Why should I network’, ‘Where do I start’, ‘Making an impression’ and ‘Personal safety and responsibilities’.

You should network because:

  • You are a better advertisement for yourself than any CV, no matter how good
  • Most jobs aren’t advertised at all
  • You will have the opportunity to share and receive useful information and to raise your profile
  • You will almost certainly gain new perspective and ideas, and widen your professional interests

If you want to start networking:

  • Make sure you’re getting the maximum value from any professional or trade organisation that you belong to.
  • Are there meetings, conferences, local groups, or other opportunities to meet people outwith your normal working environment
  • Remember that family and friends can be part of your network too: if they don’t know what you are looking for, they won’t be able to tell you when they bump into it.

Before attending your first networking opportunity:

  • Research the event and the people who are likely to be there
  • Think about the questions you would like to ask, and who you would like to meet
  • Think about what you have to offer: prepare a short explanation of what you are doing to avoid nerves robbing you of your eloquence
  • Think about body language and how to convey interest, enthusiasm, and confidence
  • Be professional: using your employers facilities (email, telephone, meeting rooms) without permission is unwise, and discussing matters which may be confidential or commercially sensitive may be career suicide. If you are willing to share confidential information with this person, they may well conclude that any information you have about them will be treated in a similar manner.
  • Plan to be safe: if you treat a networking opportunity as a blind date, and follow the same rules, you reduce the chances of something going wrong.
  • If you are setting up a meeting, remember that a neutral venue such as a coffee shop is more generally acceptable than a pub or other place where alcohol is served.

After the event:

    • Keep careful records of names, contact details and information
    • Follow up useful leads
    • Keep in touch
    • Always do what you promised to do for others!

For an unconvential approach to networking….

You might want to visit The Ripple Effect, which is a blog set up by Steve Harper.

And if you’re considering setting up on your own….

Escape from cubicle nation, and in particular the Open letter to CEOs is as good a place as any to start.

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