Whether you want to find a job, freelance or launch your own business, networking can help you to build your professional contacts and find out about opportunities. However, despite the clear benefits, attending a networking event can still feel daunting, especially if you are at the beginning of your career.
To help students and graduates to get the most out of networking opportunities, Careers and Employability hosted a workshop on ‘How to Network’ at LCC on 4 February. Part of the Creative Shift team’s Women+ In Leadership event series - which aims to address the under-representation of women in the creative sector – the workshop was facilitated by London College of Fashion graduate Mirela de Lacerda.
Mirela is founder of emotional branding agency Project M and has used networking effectively during her career, despite being a natural introvert. Here are her top networking tips from the event:
Before attending a networking event:
- Practice how you’re going to introduce yourself and what you do so that it feels natural when you do it.
- Prepare some ice-breakers to open up conversations.
- Research topics about your industry or the event you are attending so that you can engage in interesting conversations.
- Get business cards printed and take them with you. Don’t be afraid to be original; make sure your cards reflect who you are and what you do.
During an event:
- Many people feel shy and self-conscious when networking. Remember that everyone is there to speak to and meet new people too.
- Set yourself the task of talking to two people you don’t know when you go to an event.
- Watch your body language, try to make eye contact and smile, showing a welcoming attitude.
- Try and mingle, ask questions and show interest - the more you do it, the more natural it will feel.
After an event:
- If you speak to someone interesting, make sure you exchange business cards and social media handles and tell them that you would like to continue the conversation.
- Follow up with any new contacts you meet by writing a friendly email or direct message on social media shortly after the event. Tell them that you had a lovely evening, enjoyed speaking to them and would like to meet for a coffee sometime.
Further advice on how to network with confidence is available online.
Creative Shift is UAL's programme of extra-curricular events and activities that aims to help shape a diverse creative industry. Find out more about their programme and who they support.
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