How to Get Involved in Your Professional Field

Last week we focused on three top ways to grow as a professional, one of which was to stay active in your field. This week we’ll give this topic even more attention, as there are many ways – and important reasons why – you should be connected and actively involved in your area of focus. If you extend your reach outside of your company to build your knowledge base and experience, it can benefit your company, your department, and yourself as a professional.

Consider joining a professional association

  • Many professions have a national association or organization designed to support members working in a particular field. Benefits of membership can include continuing education or building credentials, access to career and job opportunities, subscriptions to relevant publications, and opportunities to meet other professionals in or outside of your local area.
  • These associations often function on a national and provincial level; view a full list of Canadian professional associations courtesy of the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

Attend national and international conferences

  • There are few better ways to stay connected in your area of interest than by attending conferences, both locally and abroad. Leaders in your field present ideas and new developments, and conferences generally provide several excellent networking opportunities.
  • The content discussed in conference keynotes, panels, and side meetings often indicate where the field is heading or what new developments may be on the horizon.
  • You can gain unique and valuable information or skills at a conference, which you can then apply to your own work back in your company.

Participate in additional and less formal events

  • In addition to conferences, there are other opportunities to participate in less formal discussions and events that are related to your field of work. Meetup.com is a site designed to connect locals with shared interests; though the selection of various Meetups includes hobbies and personal interests, it unites those with similar professional work and objectives as well. Meetups can include anything from a small group discussion to a panel event with notable speakers.
  • Participate in an online forum. Instead of simply posting your resume and credentials on your LinkedIn profile and leaving it there, actively engage on LinkedIn by starting or joining a discussion group for like-minded professionals on a relevant topic. You may be surprised how extended and enriching a LinkedIn discussion can become: these discussion groups have no expiry date, so the conversation can continue to grow indefinitely as more members can join in.

Network – and maintain your connections

  • The key to keeping a strong network is to maintain your connections. You may have hundreds of contacts, but if you do not foster those relationships, they will eventually lose their value.  I always tell my clients “your network is your networth.”
  • Simply maintaining connections now means that you may benefit from them in the future: a fellow professional may present an opportunity for collaboration or partnership; a contact may be able to assist you transition between companies or provide a career opportunity; another contact may become a client someday. You never know how or when your strong contacts will support you – but it is very likely that ultimately they will.

Find out more about our business networking with a twist lunch and learn workshop today and grow your network (and your net worth) quickly and effectively.

 

Business Networking: 10 Top Tips on How To Work a Room

Bookmark this on Delicious
View our profile on LinkedInFind us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

how to work a roomDo you get nervous when you walk into a room full of people you don’t know? Sure, we’re all used to networking via social media – tweeting, posting to LinkendIn and sharing on Facebook- those don’t seem to intimidate us much, do they?

But when it comes to a one-on-one business networking event, professional meeting, workshop or seminar, why do some of us end up with sweaty palms and an uncomfortable feeling in the gut?

Agreed, attending an event without any familiar faces can be scary, but NOT if you go with a goal in mind BEFORE you arrive. This will help you “avoid wandering around aimlessly or trying to strike up forced conversations with people who don’t interest you.”

Here are 10 great tips offered by Forbes on “How To Work A Room Like You Own The Place”:

1. Go with a purpose. Remind yourself why you are there. You are using your precious time to network and to make some useful connections, so make sure you aren’t wasting energy. Set a couple of targets like: speak to three new people; or try to learn at least two new pieces of information or gossip.

2. Use inside contacts. If you know the event organizer and he or she is around during the event, ask for an introduction to key people who you ought to meet there. Having a warm overture will make the process of networking easier. It will also save you the time of trying to find people who you don’t know.

3. Be a lone ranger. If you’re attending the event with people you already know well, such as colleagues and friends, don’t fall into the trap of sticking together for the whole event. Talking to people who you already know will lessen your chances of meeting new ones. To extricate yourself, deliberately sit next to someone you don’t know during a talk or a meal that takes place during the event.

4. Get the lay of the land. Observe group formations before choosing whom to approach. Look for people who are most likely to respond positively. These would be individuals standing alone who are waiting for someone to talk to, or groups of twos and threes that are open to new participants. You can see this in their body language: if they are facing outward, chances are they are having a casual conversation and would be happy for others to join in.

5. Be aware of your own body language.Folding your arms in front of your body and looking at the floor forms a barrier between you and the other person and gives the impression that you don’t want to talk to them. In contrast, leaving your arms unfolded and maintaining eye contact will make them feel welcome.

6. Break the ice. Don’t feel like you have to say something profound. Breaking the ice can be as simple as commenting on the venue, the program or the food; asking people where they’ve traveled  from or whether they’ve been to the event or place before; or expressing an interest in why they are attending.

7. Mind your handshake. Most meetings start with a cordial handshake. Put out your full hand, avoiding the half-handed (and halfhearted) grip, which can feel like a cold fish. Shake firmly, but don’t make it a bone crusher. Maintain eye contact and smile as you greet your new potential contact.

8. Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that ask who, what, where, when and how – as opposed to questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Your goal is to explore ideas and opinions and also to show your listening skills.

9. Go easy on the business cards. Make each one count, rather than handing them out like a meaningless pamphlet. It’s not about volume–it’s about quality contacts. Be ready to hand out a business card if someone requests it or you think that you have a made a good solid new connection. Forcing it on someone who doesn’t seem to want it just makes you look desperate.

10. Be generous. Offer to help where you can and don’t expect anything in return. Most people appreciate a favor and want to reciprocate. In time, your virtue may turn out to be its own reward.

If you want to master the art of working a room, look no further than Corporate Class’s Working a Room workshop.

Maximizing networking opportunities at meetings, conferences and trade shows is the nucleus of this session. Participants cover a full range of techniques to make connections and build relationships including: making an entrance, mastering the art of introduction, successful mingling and small talk, remembering names, handling food and drinks, plus, advance prep and final follow-up pointers.

Watch a video and learn more about our exclusive 60-90 minute Working a Room workshop here!