I can still remember, all too clearly, sitting in a lecture during the first week of my Commerce degree, being told by one of my professors that the key to professional success is networking, and lots of it. Honestly, eighteen year old Courtney had never been more petrified.
At first, my desperate attempts to dodge these coveted networking opportunities and the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment that I predicted would ensue, worked. I spent hours convincing myself I did not need the benefits I would derive from attending these events.
However, in the end, did I end up attending networking events during the course my degree? Of course I did. Was the experience awkward? At first, yes. Was it worth it? Completely.
Currently, the in-person professional networking I actively engage in occurs very organically through my employment environment. Working in a marketing capacity within the health food industry presents limitless opportunities to connect and engage with brand representatives. These frequent and repeated interactions allow for relationships to develop, and topics to be explored — organic conversations around career related successes and challenges, and exciting industry trends.
Social media platforms have an incredibly powerful potential when used for professional networking. Social media allows for individuals to showcase all of one’s strengths, interests and passions in one place. For example, for me, social media serves as a place where I am able to showcase my interest in health, while simultaneously sharing my passion for personal finance.
At the moment in a professional context, I maintain a LinkedIn profile, that is neither completely up-to-date nor active. In addition, I maintain a professional Instagram account, and an Instagram account for my podcast. Finally, I maintain a blog on my podcast’s website. These platforms are not being truly optimized for professional networking purposes.
Future Focused: Commitment to In-person and Online Professional Networking
Looking forward, with the full understanding of the importance of developing both in-person and online professional relationships and networks, I am fully committed to expanding my professional networks in two capacities — through maintaining an increased social media presence, both as an individual and as the host of my personal finance podcast, along with attending professional development seminars, conferences, and events.
Professional Networking as an Individual and Podcast Host
In the next six to twelve months, I have aspirations to revise my LinkedIn profile, ensuring my Experience, Accomplishments, and Skills are accurate and current. I am going to actively add connections to my network who are both influencers in their industries and interested or employed within areas that pertain to my interests. In addition, I am going to actively share content related to my professional role within marketing, along with content pertaining to my passion for personal finance. These actions will result in creating a heavier presence within my LinkedIn network, leading to greater opportunities to begin discussions with those are interested and passionate about the same topics.
Twitter, a powerful tool and one that I underutilize, is a platform I want to grow to have an active presence on within the next six to twelve months. Twitter, for myself, serves as an untapped source of valuable local-based connections that can work to further my personal finance podcast’s objectives and my own personal finance knowledge.
The potential for both my professional and podcast Instagram accounts have not been fully maximized. In the next six to twelve months, my goal is to increase the frequency and quality of interactions with other users, while simultaneously developing a detailed set of objectives and overarching goals for both accounts in regards to how I intend to utilize these accounts moving forward, what type of content I hope to continue sharing, and how often I intend to post.
Website and Blog
With a corresponding personal finance website and blog for my podcast, I hope to publish content to this platform on a regular and ongoing basis and frequency while continuing to interact with readers and listeners through comments and contact form submissions. Encouraging dialogue on the podcast’s website is a valuable way to expand the podcast’s existing network.
In the next six to twelve months I intend to utilize Eventbrite to source out events to attend, which present opportunities to connect with individuals within the personal finance community and marketing environment. These valuable connections have the potential to translate into lasting relationships that can extend past the networking event itself.
Through reflection and time, I have come a long way since eighteen-year-old Courtney and her fear of networking and the awkwardness associated with it, and now realize the value and benefit of professional networking. In my opinion, the key to successfully networking both online and offline? Ensuring interactions feel genuine, authentic, and natural.