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Networking works

April Warrier of RSM UK has some top advice on how to build your network

August 2018

In a world increasingly reliant on social media and high-speed fibre optics, the only networking some find themselves doing is accepting a LinkedIn request. This, however, needs to change. Networking involves far more than clicking ‘accept’ and scrolling through a profile. It should be about exploring interpersonal networks outside of your comfort zone. It may only take one inspirational person to kick-start your motivation and expand your horizons.
The biggest advantage to networking is building a support system. You could meet someone you could call for technical advice, future business opportunities or career guidance – the possibilities of what people can contribute are endless. The new relationships you can develop through networking will have a positive influence on your career. The broader and more diverse your network, the better it will serve you in the future – provided that you nurture and continue to expand it.
And regular attendance at professional and social networking events will help increase your profile and build your reputation as someone who can offer help, support and advice to others.
So here are some of the tactics that will help you approach any networking event with the confidence to start making some lasting connections:
• Doing some brief research on the event in advance will help you understand what to expect and hopefully give you an idea of some of the people you might encounter. This can help to calm some of those initial nerves, and means you’re not going to encounter any surprises. If you’re likely to have one-to-one time with someone at an event, especially with an individual at a more advanced stage of their career, go prepared with a few questions that you can ask them.
• When you first arrive at an event, try to overcome the fear of approaching a circle and introducing yourself. A way to go about this is to remember that everyone is in the room for the same reason. Also keep in mind that it’s very likely the people you are approaching faced the same fear only moments before.
• The best advice is to be natural. It is important to realise that people will be interested in getting to know you and may be able to tell if you’re playing a part. Even if you don’t feel confident speaking to people just remind yourself that everyone has something to offer.
• The best way to get better at networking is to go out and do it, and the only way to build a strong network is to meet and connect with new people.
• Meet and network with fellow ACA students by exploring the student societies and events near you – check them out at icaew.com/studentgroups or icaew.com/events
• April Warrier, Audit Supervisor, RSM UK

Reproduced with the permission of ICAEW, adapted from an article first published in Vital (July 2018)

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