Youth Employment Ambassador Harvey shares his top networking tips.
I’m a proud Ambassador for Youth Employment UK alongside running my company – Harvey Morton IT Support. I started my first business through a school enterprise competition when I was just 13 years old and after being in business for the last 6 years, I have learned that networking is one of the most important factors in any successful career. In this blog post, I’m going to be sharing my top five tips on networking and I will also discuss tips on how to build a personal brand on social media.
When I went to my first networking event, I found the thought of going up to someone who I didn’t know and telling them about my business extremely daunting, but now when I look back – I realise that it’s one of the best things you can do because some of the people I’ve met whilst networking are now good friends, trusted colleagues and they are all helping me to build my future.
I can remember the first time I had to network being really nerve-wracking, I was shaking and chatting about anything uninteresting, but it’s also where I met many contacts I’m still friends with today. After the first networking event was out of the way though, every time I’d go to an event I’d pick up another friend or useful contact and that’s why I’d love it, this brings me on to my first tip:
- Be Yourself
Networking in the right circles is how I found some of my largest jobs to date and it’s why I made friends with some of the best, loveliest people! It’s important that when you’re networking, just be yourself because the people you meet whilst networking often approach you because they are interested in you and what you have to say and if they’re not, they’ll just politely walk away and join another conversation – there’s nothing to lose!
- Identify Opportunities
I’ve worked so incredibly hard to build my company up to the level it’s at today, I wasn’t lucky, I didn’t win the lottery but I did identify opportunities whilst networking and maybe even created them when they weren’t there. Luck is where preparation and opportunity meet so they say. So, what I’m saying is, you need to identify the opportunities where your work history and skill fit best, and get involved. One of my favourite things about networking is you never know who you’re going to meet or what these people can offer you in the future, if you see an opportunity and think you would be the perfect fit – it’s down to you to work your way in there, you never know what it might lead to.
- Get on LinkedIn
Platforms like LinkedIn are becoming an essential source of hiring, and are a crucial asset to networking. Start building a strong LinkedIn profile by adding your peers and those who you meet whilst networking, and ensure that your profile is kept up to date and accurate. Use this opportunity to reflect on your image and online reputation, and tidy up any social media profiles that could be seen as “unprofessional”.
- Dress for the Occasion
When you’re planning your outfit, pick something professional—you won’t make an impression (at least, not a good one) if you look too casual! However, if the event you’re going to states a casual dress code, then there’s no pressure to wear something super formal!
- Bring Business Cards and Follow Up
Finally, I thought I’d share two subtle tips in one as these link together nicely. You might not believe it but I’ve been to so many networking events where I’ve had a great conversation with someone, asked to take their business card and found out they’ve forgotten to bring some with them. Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need, and keep a stack of them in a card case, this way, you can keep them neatly stored in your pocket and have them ready to give out at the right time. It’s also important to follow up with those people that you meet, it’s very rare that they will follow up with you if they’re offering you an opportunity – even though that doesn’t make it right! The next morning or later in the day, send follow-up emails to anyone you met that you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to personalize each email, letting each person know you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning something that you talked about. A quick way to do this is by sending out LinkedIn invites – it’s a great way to build up your network!
Your personal brand
I just wanted to summarise this blog by talking briefly about personal branding on social media. It’s taking me years to build respected profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram with a good following and I’ve done this through being persistent and posting consistent content across all social media channels. When you’re building a personal social media presence that you want your network to value, use a professional profile picture on all of your networks, create share-worthy content to reach out to a wider network of people and most importantly, be social and interact with your contacts and anyone who think could help you regularly through social media – it’s a great way to boost your following and a strong community around your personal brand!
Thank you for reading my blog, good luck with your networking