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Jen Sharpe of Think HQ reflects on the recent IABC Victoria Beyond Networking panel.

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The IABC ‘Beyond Networking’ panel event this week was a valuable opportunity for students and established professionals from the communications industry to meet, receive tips on effective networking (on and offline), and put all the advice into practice with a networking practicum afterwards.

I was privileged to share the panel with Michael Korjen, Public Relations Manager at Bombora Technologies; Lloyd Lazaro, Managing Partner, Asia Pacific, Ampersand Executive, Search and Advisory; and Damien Batey, your IABC Victoria president and Manager, Communications, Asia Pacific and Middle East, Mototola Solutions. The panel discussion was moderated by IABC student ambassador Jenna Waite – who, incidentally, now works for Think HQ after a series of networking experiences at previous IABC events.

This was a really engaged audience, and given the mix of students and established professionals, I think that’s an interesting remark on how constant the journey of learning is in this industry.

Early responses indicated that everyone’s experience of “networking” is vastly different. On the panel alone, we ranged from those who physically cringe at the mention of the word, to those who thrive at professional networking and actively seek out opportunities to dabble in finger food and chit chat with our industry peers.

While the panel held some diverse views on the best way to approach networking situations, there was a consensus on the value of networking: genuine professional relationships are integral to our profession, and breed benefits in both the short and long term.

The top five take away tips were:

  • Be authentic – talk about your journey and aspirations. People who know what you’re about and what you value create the best opportunities
  • Longevity is key – connections that initially seem irrelevant might prove fruitful in the future
  • Celebrating your own, and other people’s, successes and achievements is an important part of creating relationships. Ignore the tall poppy syndrome, and celebrate freely!
  • There’s a good degree of psychology in networking – read, observe and act carefully.
  • Just as you would in your personal life, be prepared to end a professional relationship when it has run its course or “expired”.

There were some insightful learnings shared by the panel (of course punctuated with horror stories of networking gone wrong), but the take away message for many was how rich and diverse the benefits of networking can be if you approach it in a genuine and open way.

 

About Jen Sharpe

Jen is Founder and Managing Director of communications and public relations agency, Think HQ – which specialises in projects of substance. An introvert at heart, Jen has built her professional reputation on delivering quality campaigns across not-for-profit, philanthropic and government sectors that have been influenced by her solid relationship building skills.  She depends on quality, not quantity in terms of professional relationships and believes value alignment is the key to great ongoing connections.