Matt Nash, Research Consultant Rutherford Cross North West takes a fresh look at networking for business, and how to make it work for you.
Earlier this month, Rutherford Cross hosted a ‘netwalking’ event in Manchester, bringing together professionals from across the city to learn more of its history and to facilitate the creation of new relationships. Led by Pauline Lloyd of Manchester Tour Guides, we enjoyed a two-hour walk of the city taking in the fantastic ‘Bee in the City’ city-wide art installation.
We received excellent feedback from attendees who found the format more relaxed than traditional forms of business networking and this got us thinking. Love it or hate it networking is an important element of a career, across all levels of experience and expertise. Relationships can be formed, acquaintances renewed, and plans made. It is particularly valuable to those early in their working lives, creating networks that will support them throughout their careers and providing an unparalleled opportunity to observe and learn from peers, colleagues and contacts they otherwise would not meet.
The creation and cultivation of these relationships have served us well at the Livingston James Group, and continues to do so. Rutherford Cross’ Steph Livingston, now based in Edinburgh has previously written about the differences she noticed returning to Scotland after her time in London, noting that the relationships are less transactional away from the Capital – a key reason as to why Rutherford Cross chose Manchester as its first south-of-the-border destination.
As Rutherford Cross continues to grow in the North-West we have held a variety of events to form and develop relationships, which differ from those held in Scotland. There, our brand and the quality of our team’s service is well-known given that our relationships are further along. It is important to remember that there is no shortcut to that level. Relationships are earned, not just through effective networking but with excellent delivery of work once the network is established.
There have been countless studies carried out on networking and its merits. Interestingly, research has indicated that a key determinant of worthwhile networking is the attitude we hold beforehand. The Harvard Business Review writes that those with a promotion-mindset see networking as an opportunity to develop, benefiting from some of the points we previously raised. Meanwhile those with a prevention-mindset felt obliged to network and did so unenthusiastically. The same article found that the more effective networkers in a legal firm would have more billable hours, being able to win work both internally and externally.
So, if we change our attitude, can we network more effectively, and become more successful as a result?
Of course, it is not that easy. People’s personalities differ and their comfort levels in certain environments differ as a result. A room full of strangers can be daunting to some. The good news is that there is more than one way to network. It can be in person, online, one-on-one, in a group, in a conference room or on a golf course to name but a few. Perhaps this should not be surprising given the increased flexibility we can observe in the industries we operate in. The tried-and-tested ways of doing things are no longer held sacred, why should networking be different?
So whilst we may not be able to change our personalities, we are able to choose the events we attend. Attend events around topics, locations and people you are genuinely interested in – rather than attending an event as a necessary evil. These can be found through EventBrite, or by doing some research on groups in your area. LinkedIn can be particularly useful in this regard.
By doing so, your interest will be apparent, and the conversations you have more rewarding. You’ll also be better placed to ask thoughtful questions – if there’s one go-to move it’s to ask people about themselves! Be sure to follow-up with your new contacts within 48-hours – show them you’re interested in what was discussed and that you want to develop the relationship.
If you would like to hear more about upcoming Rutherford Cross events, please register your interest at [email protected] . You can also visit Manchester Guided Tours to find out more about the wide range of tours available.
Matt Nash is a Research Consultant with Rutherford Cross based in Manchester. Rutherford Cross is a specialist senior finance and accountancy recruitment firm with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester and is part of the Livingston James Group.