‘Wandering around a room full of strangers; trying to spark conversations and desperately hand out business cards. All this in the hope of meeting the perfect connection.’
This may be what comes to mind when you think of networking. Terrifying, right? As scary as it may initially seem, networking is your gateway to accessing a wealth of knowledge, experience and opportunities. Whatever sector you are in and whatever it is you do, building your network and making important connections has immeasurable value. You never know where a connection will lead you!
The Power of Networking
In just 4 short weeks working for WSV, I have written hundreds of emails, attempted to master the art of cold calling and attended some truly inspirational conferences! From meeting a consultant neurosurgeon from Bahrain to the founder of the Africa Technology Business Network… you never know who you might come across! And whilst connections may not always be directly relevant, you never know how they could help you out in the future. Or more importantly, what you could offer them!
Last week, I atended the Planet Earth Institute’s ‘Scientific Independence for Africa’ conference. I was sat at a table with academics, policy makers, scientists and doctors, all working in the field of international development. As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty under-qualified, and was thinking ‘what on earth do I have to offer them?’ The man I was sat next to turned out to be a lecturer in global challenges who was seeking people with links to universities. I was able to share with him some key contacts from Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton, to which he was incredibly grateful. It is these chance collaborations which can lead to the mutual exchanges of contacts, knowledge and skills that make networking so rewarding.
My top tips
Whilst after 4 weeks I am not claiming to be a networking genius, I have learnt a few things I want to share:
- Never overlook a contact as irrelevant – you don’t know who they might be able to put you in touch with!
- Think about how you can help others as well as what they can offer you – the more you can help someone out, the more willing they’ll be to return the favour!
- Bring and collect enough business cards! The worst thing is running out halfway through or relying on others to email you – get those contacts to remember you and send a follow up email ASAP!
Amelia Gullett FRSA
Network Development Internship