Report: Take the fear out of networking

On Wednesday 22nd March, SALIN hosted Take the fear out of networking, a workshop providing advice on social communication for your career.

The event started with a networking bingo session to get everyone out of their seats and into conversations. Two experienced networkers then provided some invaluable advice. The event concluded with a speed-networking activity which gave everyone the chance to practice what they had learned and speak to all other attendees.

We’d like to thank our guest presenters Jennifer Osborn (Research Librarian at the University of Adelaide) and Eleanor Thomas (Acquisitions Coordinator at the University of South Australia). Here’s a summary of their advice:

Jennifer gave a holistic view of networking, explaining the strategies you can use to have a networking approach to life: always take the opportunity to start chatting to a stranger. She reminded us that networking should be about building relationships and more about giving than taking. She also recommended LinkedIn as a valuable way to build networks and make yourself visible and available to the wider profession.

Jennifer suggests remembering these three Ps of networking:

  • Proactive – approach someone, don’t wait for people to approach you
  • Prepared – know who you want to speak to and what you want to say
  • Polite – always always be polite!

Have an ‘elevator pitch’ ready using the simple formula I do X for Y so Z: what you do, who you do it for, and what results you get.

Eleanor gave her top tips for networking at professional events:

  • Everyone networks differently.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Sometimes you have to put on your ‘work mask’ and go and do it anyway.
  • Try to allow your personality to shine through.
  • There’s something to be said for having unusual hair – any stand out feature will do.
  • Don’t be a wallflower, but watch out for those that are – start with that other person hiding in the corner.
  • Don’t huddle in a corner with your colleagues. Get out there and meet someone new.
  • Be observant. Recognise people or roles that would be helpful to know.
  • Begin with finding things in common and then build from there.
  • Find your hook – something about them/their job/their style you can fix on to start the conversation.
  • Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to keep doing it and doing it until you realise that you’re not as scared as you once were.

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