We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’, your network can sometimes prove more useful in helping you find a job than your professional qualifications. There are many ways in which networking helps, not least of all exposing you to new opportunities and business ventures.
Despite being one of the most effective and inexpensive ways of self-promotion and job seeking, many shy away from networking, afraid of appearing pushy or desperate. Effective networking, however, should be mutually beneficial. The goal should not be how someone can help you, but rather what it is that you can bring to the table.
Where to Network?
Networking happens all the time and can take place anywhere: from specific organised networking events, after work drinks or just at a coffee shop. Interest groups and alumni associations can all help to build your network, as although they might not be directly associated with the career you want, they could introduce you to other contacts who are or may lead you down a new path you didn’t know you wanted.
Acumin are partnered with RANT events who regularly organise meet ups where they invite business leaders to give a talk about cyber related topics which spark debate. Some of the cyber security events coming up in 2020 can be found here: https://www.rantevents.com/events-for-cybersecurity-professionals/upcoming/upcoming
InfoSecurity Europe is a major event in the cyber security calendar where Acumin have held a regular stand for over 20 years. It is a great place to speak to other industry professionals and stay on trend with all things cyber, see new technological innovations and a great place to speak to major cyber security vendors.
LinkedIn is a great networking tool as it allows you to reach a multitude of people of all job professions from around the world. It provides you with an opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals and potential employers by joining groups, sharing and commenting on relevant content. LinkedIn takes the pressure off face to face meetings by making a digital connection first to build a rapport.
How to Network effectively
Networking is an excellent way to expand and grow your professional network and get to know people that can potentially help your career.
Most individuals within the sector are more than willing to give advice and share their professional knowledge, and will likely be flattered by the approach. The trick is to ask the right questions, such as: “What qualifications would you recommend for a role in xxxx?” or “How would you approach an interview with xxxx company?” Listen carefully and make note of each answer before asking another, even if it is advice you think you will remember.
There is also no harm in asking someone for CV advice. Letting someone with professional experience in the cyber security sector look at your CV directly allows them to find out more about your previous experience and achievements for themselves. Be prepared for constructive criticism and don’t take it personally if they give you critical feedback, their advice could provide invaluable in making changes to your CV that may help improve your job search.
Planning is key when attending professional events. Before going, be sure you have a clear path, know what businesses you want to speak to and what conferences or seminars you wish to attend, if there is an opportunity to attend any after event networking dinners or drinks, be sure to register for these.
Business cards are a useful tool to have. If you don’t have a printed card there is the option to use software such as ‘Clink’ or ‘SnapDat’. If you have physical cards, be sure to jot down useful information about the person you have met on the back i.e. where you met them and what you spoke about. At larger networking events you can come into contact with a lot of people and it is hard to remember everything.
How to follow up
Don’t waste too much time, there are no rules with how long to wait to message a possible connection. Don’t worry about coming across overly keen, it is usually best to message a new connection whilst you are still fresh in their memory. A simple ‘it was nice meeting you’ or ‘thank you for your advice’ message will suffice and a great way to drop in a further question about the conversation you had.
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