A lack of time, excessive shyness or difficulties to meet because of the current health crisis... There may be many reasons why it's difficult to develop one's professional network. And yet, "it is a key element of career success", says Joanna Menezes, certified coach and trainer, who created the Cala Learning Hub network earlier this year. On 10th December 2020, during the webinar "How to network and build lasting and mutually beneficial professional relationships", she took stock of the issue and offered the opportunity to the 10 HR professionals present to meet and exchange online. A successful venture!
A network to create and seize opportunities
If you take the time to think about the importance of networking, you will soon realise that its benefits are numerous! It can allow you to make yourself known, to find a job (or a candidate), to solve a problem, to create partnerships, to share best practices... So many opportunities that it seems a shame to miss out. According to a study , in order to succeed in your career, you need to have a strong professional network and spend at least 10 hours a week developing it, whether it's over a coffee or via social media. "So don't underestimate the power of networking," says Joanna Menezes.
Some tips to get started
But how can we engage in networking? According to Joanna Menezes, there are three points to consider before you start. First, ask yourself some questions: What are my objectives? Who can help me? Then, adopt a "networking mindset", i.e. be attentive, curious, generous and also ready to give. Then, it is important to develop your networking tools: have a business card, use social media, know how to talk about yourself by preparing a pitch...
Participating in events
Once you are ready, where can you develop your network? In normal times - excluding health crises - the best thing to do is to attend events (conferences, lunches, workshops, etc.) and, above all, to talk to the people there. There are all sorts of groups and networks for this: for example, local business groups, "casual contact" groups (eg Alumni Associations), professional associations such as l’ANDRH, women's networks and community service clubs, to name a few.
Another effective way to network, especially in the current health crisis, is to participate in webinars, communicate via a blog and, of course, be present and active on social media. There are also professional Whatsapp groups and very useful applications such as Meetup, Shapr or Eventbrite through which you can sign up for a variety of events and make new connections.
Putting theory into practice
Theory is good. But practice is even better! For this webinar, the 10 participants present - all HR professionals currently employed or in transition - were invited to exchange in small groups. For 15 minutes, they were able to discuss their current challenges and share their objectives for 2021. Several new connections were made! "Proof that it is easy and that even a small group of people can form a network," concludes Joanna. The next step is to maintain contact over time and continue meeting new people.