Recruitment specialist VMA’s tips for making the most of networking events
In this digital era it’s all too easy to rely on CV submissions and online networking tools to seek out new IR career opportunities, but the power of face-to-face networking shouldn’t be underestimated. Not only do such events place an individual directly in front of potential employers – often on a regular basis – but they also provide a platform for skills development.
So how can you make the most of networking events to further your career?
A common mistake many make is attending too many or the wrong type of events. Going to every opportunity under the sun will not necessarily help your career and will not be an efficient use of your time. Make sure you are choosing your networks wisely and putting the required effort in the right places.
Consider the types of companies represented at each event and who will be there. If, for example, you’re looking to make a move from external supplier to in-house expert, mingling with your peers will not be beneficial. Instead, look for opportunities that will be of interest to in-house IROs: this will help further your knowledge and could place you in front of your potential new boss.
Look further afield
That being said, don’t stick to IR-specific networks, either. Consider any wider financial market conferences or roundtables that could expand your knowledge of key influencers and widen your personal network.
Ask yourself where you see your career going in the medium to long term. If, for example, you want to move into a leadership role, look at any opportunities that will expose you to those who have been successful in making a move into a senior position.
Have something to give back
Go armed with conversation topics that will highlight your understanding of this niche arena. Remember that it’s a networking event and not a job interview, so delegates will want to speak with like-minded people. The more you give back to those in attendance, the more you will stay front of mind when they are asked for referrals at work. And remember that every person in the room could be a potential future employer or advocate for you, so make a good impression on everyone, regardless of how much or little he or she can currently help your job hunt.
It can be easy to get carried away by convivial conversations at events, and chances are you could leave without achieving what you really wanted. In order to avoid this, set yourself clear objectives in advance. For example, if you can get hold of an attendee list beforehand, choose three key people you want to speak to during the event and go with the intention of achieving this target. By having this in mind you’re more likely to stay on track.
Remember, networking face to face can be advantageous over other routes to a career move. It’s entirely possible to hear of potential opportunities before they are even public knowledge, and networking with recruiters can often speed up the hiring process – particularly with interim positions – so make sure you are fully benefiting from these potential contact goldmines.
Lucinda Moores is executive director at VMA Group, a specialist corporate and marketing communications recruitment firm
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