Where do I go to network?

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Ask any senior executive, politician or high-flying academic how they got to where they are today. Their answer, although different from person to person, will surely involve one key element: networking. Who you know is often as important as what you know, and networking can be the catalyst to success if you build mutually beneficial relationships with those around you.

Here are some of the more important networking opportunities for job seekers and career changers:

Career Fairs
Career fairs provide you with the opportunity to meet spokespeople for a variety of companies and institutions all under one roof. These fairs can be a great way to casually meet someone “on the inside” and to find out more about potential openings.

Professional conferences
Seminars, workshops, and conferences offer perfect opportunities to meet peers and build connections with people at the same career stage as you. They offer a great opportunity to share insights and strategies and learn from each other.

Networking clubs
Nowadays, professional networking events come in all shapes and sizes (and take place at all hours of the day and night). Pre-work breakfast clubs have surged in popularity in recent years, and are an excellent way to engage with people from different professions and industries. If early starts aren’t your thing, there are also plenty of lunch and after-work options.

Social/ community events
Discovering what you have in common outside of the work environment is by far the best way to build sincere and strong relationships. By interacting with people in a stress-free environment, you will get to know the ‘real’ them, and vice versa. From local community events such as charity get-togethers to school and university alumni gatherings, there are plenty of ways to get out there and mingle.

Online networks
Of course, not everything has to be done in person. LinkedIn is an obvious option to broaden your professional network, with groups catering to people with all manner of trades, interests, experiences and backgrounds.

University student and recent graduate-specific options
• Most larger universities and colleges organise sector-specific career fairs and employer visits, often on campus. These opportunities can be a great eye-opener if you are a student or graduate looking for ideas on which profession to go into or help on how to get there.
• University careers service teams are usually available to offer relevant information about where and how to network, and their events are usually free of charge. Send them an email or drop into their office – you’ll be surprised how helpful they can be!

As you can see, regardless of what stage you’re at in your career, there is a wealth of networking opportunities at your fingertips, so there really is no excuse for not taking the time to begin making those all-important connections.

Source: HN Global