Hannah Robson and I attended Futurescapes last week where I also took part in a panel.
The main focus of the session was around networking. We wanted to explore the different ways of networking, and ways that it benefits your career and highlight some top tips. It’s such a great tool to help develop your own personal brand, but sometimes you just don’t know where to start!
The panel was hosted by the YPHA, and we had John Tallis (Outdoor Living Gardens and YPHA Committee Member) chairing the panel. Alongside myself, I had the fantastic Megan Warren-Davis (Walberton, Farplants and YPHA Committee Member) and Katie Wood (Veg Trug and YPHA Member).
There were a few key points that arose. We talked about networking in general, and how much the YPHA has aided people as a networking tool. Ironically, we were talking about the values of networking and about 2 hours later hosted a YPHA networking coffee where we got to meet some members and have a chat. The benefits of networking for your own career were brought to attention, and the ways to go about doing this – some key points were utilising LinkedIn, attending events, and not saying no to opportunities, no matter how daunting. I was asked about pet peeves at networking events, mine is definitely when people don’t have name badges!
As nerve-racking as it is for me to do any form of public speaking, I did really enjoy sitting on the panel. I always say to myself that if even one person benefits from it, then it is worth doing. I saw a fair few people making notes so we must have been saying something worth remembering!
What tips do you have for people after reflecting on the panel?
Don’t say no. Networking in many forms can be a very nerve-wracking thing to do, but if you can push yourself out of your comfort zone, then do it.
Get on LinkedIn, join the YPHA and take the opportunities already there to meet like-minded people.
If you’re going to a networking event – do your research! Find out who’s there and figure out who you want to see/introduce yourself to. Book in meetings. Tell your connections that you’re going – it makes the actual event so much easier.
Meg brought up a great point that resonated with me. She said that when you are talking to people you’ve never met before, don’t go straight into ‘business’ talk. Be curious, ask questions, and find common ground. It could be your love for dogs, your favourite football team or your favourite type of food, but informal friendly chats are so much easier and you’ll make yourself more memorable that way.
My last point would be to join the YPHA!! We’re 700+ members strong, and getting so big we’re in the process of moving to a new communication platform. We’re in the works for a spring face-to-face networking event, and it’s not one you want to miss!
If you want to find out more about the session on the YPHA please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.