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Strategic Networking for Career Transitions and Growth

Vanessa Riley, Chief People Officer, Richard Crookes Constructions

The thought of networking commonly conjures up the image of champagne, canapés and small talk with unfamiliar people. Group-based networking activities, if used purposefully, are good for some things. Keynote presentations often provide great learning and insights. Connecting with colleagues (old and current) is also very beneficial.   


Yet, with more than 75% of the population introverted or classifying as ambivert (in between introvert and extrovert), and close to 20% of the population neurodivergent, large group networking events miss the mark for the majority. Other networking activities most helpful for career transitions are often underutilised.  


The good news is that you already have a network. Think about people who energise you, support you, have solved problems similar to yours; possess skills you would like to develop; could help you take action; or broker a connection with someone. They are your people and your network! 


The bad news is networks have expiry dates. If you don’t invest time, networks wither on the vine. Warm networks ensure ease and sustainability over time. Cold networks feel awkward.  Reaching out only when you need something, will limit the potential and, in time, work against you. 


Map your network by listing the people who energise you, support you, have solved problems like yours, have skills you’d like to develop, can broker a connection or help you take action. With your network map complete, reach out. People inherently like to help so reaching out to foster a relationship will work no matter how close or removed you are from the person.   


If this feels awkward, what can you offer? Can you energise, develop or broker a connection for them?

Giving something will always be warmly invited and reap rewards longer term. 

Consider networking more farming than hunting. Know who your people are and foster your connections.   

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