There are many ways you can benefit from creating your own network, from building confidence, sharing ideas and advice, to accessing opportunities that you might not have otherwise come across. No matter what stage in your life or career you are at, building and maintaining relationships with a wide range of people can always help you to develop personally and professionally, and to reach your goals.
The events of the last year have massively changed networking but that doesn’t mean you still can’t widen your network. With a big shift to online events and Zoom calls, there are lots of ways you can connect with people. Here’s a look at just some of the networks available to you and ways to maintain those relationships.
Your friends and family
One of the best groups that many people wouldn’t consider as actual networking is your friends and family. Reaching out to your personal network can enable you to gain help, access opportunities and make new connections. Asking a group that already has an established interest and genuinely cares about you, means that you have access to really honest and open support, be prepared though, sometimes it can be brutally honest.
On average you spend 1680 hours a year (about 20% of your time) working with your team. Therefore it’s important to be able to reach out to them, even if it can be tough discussing work issues. Though our Head of Content has done an excellent blog about managing difficult conversations at work.
The power of social media is never to be underestimated. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on, are social networks that can help you connect with people, businesses and brands from around the world. With the different platforms also being a great way to find out about the latest trends, tools and news that you can also use and learn from.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve seen many people reaching out to their social networks when times have been tough, and the responses have especially helpful. The use of social networking has also been key to adapting to these crazy times, for example, here’s a way we used the networks to change our outreach and connect with journalists for our pitches.
Then, of course, there’s the what seems the never-ending list of networking groups and organisations you can get involved with. Now there’s not one that fits all, each group will have it’s own benefits and drawbacks that will be personal to you, so we thought we’d summarise some of our favourites.
JCI Manchester is part of a global not-for-profit organisation for 18-40-year-olds, that is run by its members, for its members. Their mission is to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change. The members are from many different backgrounds, cultures and professions but by sharing common values and a passion to develop themselves whilst supporting and improving their communities.
Their events include training and development, charity, health and wellbeing, and socials. Being part of a global network is also really beneficial right now as JCI members can attend any events around the world from the comfort of their own home, all for £10 per month. I’m pleased to say Embryo have recently become corporate members of JCI Manchester and we’re excited to get involved this year.
Manchester Young Professionals (MYP)
MYP is an inclusive and accessible network for progressive, like-minded young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s. Events they organise include mentoring, fitness classes and socials. As team Embryo has worked with and supported MYP events over the last year we can say they offer a great mix of events and by not working on a membership basis, you can pick and choose what events best suit you and your needs. A proportion of each ticket cost also goes towards their chosen charity.
BNI’s mission is to help their members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. Being a BNI member, allows you to access to networking opportunities, business resources and professional training.
Meetup isn’t one group in particular but a platform for finding and building local communities. As an individual, you can use Meetup to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of your comfort zones, and pursue passions, across a wide range of topics that include tech, adventure, photography, fashion and beauty, and pets to name a few.
Remember as a professional, young especially, there can be a constant feeling of pressure to be managing to hold your life together whilst always continuing to develop professionally. Therefore it’s really important to have that wider network of support and guidance that you can lean on when in need. Remember though, great networking isn’t a one-way street, you need to be prepared to give what you receive and be willing to help others.