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Don’t fool yourself, it’s vital to build a network in corporate communications

Posted: Jan 2024
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The Importance of Networking in Corporate Communications

Building relationships with colleagues, industry leaders, and potential partners can open doors to new opportunities, provide valuable insights, and boost your professional reputation. Attending conferences, joining industry groups, and engaging on social media are just a few ways to connect with others in the field. By building strong networks, professionals can gain access to mentorship, collaboration, and innovative ideas, ultimately leading to greater achievements and growth.

We believe that networking is important for everyone at every stage of their career, and we should always be looking to establish and nurture professional relationships. For instance, PR practitioners need to cultivate ties with media representatives to secure coverage for their organisation's news and announcements. Similarly, capital markets comms specialists must develop rapport with financial analysts and investors to communicate financial performance and strategy effectively.

Agency practitioners are fee earners and as they move up the ranks, they are increasingly required to bring in new business opportunities to their agencies. Some of the large international agencies have such well-known brands as clients that they are automatically put onto pitch lists and there is less pressure on practitioners to find leads from their network. However, practitioners sitting in small and mid-sized agencies, especially at a more senior level, are required to use their network and bring in business. They need to help build the revenue for the agency and justify their value and salaries. This means that having a network is of great importance especially as you move up the ranks.

Building a Network

To create a strong network, start by identifying key industry events, conferences, and trade shows, and make sure to attend them regularly. These events offer excellent opportunities to connect with other professionals, learn about the latest trends and technologies, and expand your network. Additionally, join relevant industry associations and online communities, such as LinkedIn groups, to engage with others in the field and stay up-to-date on industry developments.

Online networking via LinkedIn is a brilliant way to engage with a global audience of professionals, leaders, and decision-makers. We recently wrote about navigating success through LinkedIn network building; you can read more about this here.

Another important aspect of building a strong network is to be proactive in helping others. Offer to speak at industry events, write articles or blog posts, or provide guidance to students or young professionals looking to enter the field. Not only does this help establish yourself as a thought leader, but it also creates goodwill and can lead to reciprocal support and opportunities down the line.

We particularly love this quote by Porter Gale, public speaker, networker, and entrepreneur, and author of “Your Network is Your Net Worth”. We think that it encompasses the modern-day philosophy of networking:

“The new form of networking is not about climbing a ladder to success; it’s about collaboration, cocreation, partnerships, and long-term values-based relationships.”

When connecting with peers, it's important to approach them with a clear understanding of what you can offer them in terms of the relationship, be respectful of their time and expertise, and look for ways to add value to conversations, any strong relationship is built on give and take and it’s important to view it in this way. By building genuine relationships you can expand your network and increase your visibility in the industry, opening up new opportunities for career growth and professional development.

To maintain professionalism in networking, it's important to set clear boundaries and expectations with contacts. It's also essential to be transparent if you are seeking some kind of support or help from them and to avoid pressuring them for referrals or favours.

Maintaining Relationships

Many people you meet through networking may be in the industry for a long time and so keeping in touch and sharing knowledge and expertise is a great way to keep nurturing those connections.

Meeting up for a coffee or lunch is a great informal way to maintain relationships in a relaxed and friendly way. Using social media can also help, supporting their posts and engaging is a good way of showing them that you value their opinions. Or it could be something as simple as picking up the phone and having a chat.

It can also be good to introduce others and create connections where you see value, not only does this offer help to them, but it can help position you as a key person of influence. More than that, those people are then likely to return the favour and help you to expand your own network.

We all know that the business world is all about people, they are the centre of everything, but it can be difficult in our busy working days to make time for building new and maintaining existing networks.

Networking is vital

Networking is a vital component of the corporate communications sector. Personal connections, industry events, and online platforms all play a role in finding and attracting high performing talent. By building and maintaining a strong network, you can stay informed about industry trends, job opportunities, and best practices. Active engagement in networking can lead to career advancement and recruitment success. As you progress in your career, whether you are working in an agency or working in-house, you may find yourself leaning on your network to support you with securing a great role. Don’t underestimate the importance of your network now as it will pay off in years to come.

We encourage readers to prioritise networking in their professional lives and take advantage of the many resources and events available to them. By doing so, you will be well on your way to achieving your career goals and building a strong foundation for long-term success.

We challenge you to put time in your diary every week to focus on networking, even if it’s just one hour a week and see what happens. We’d love to know!

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