There's a well known phrase that goes 'It isn't what you know, it's who you know'. It's stood the test of time because, it's largely very true.
The construction industry is particularly heavy on networking events. There are many very good construction networking events around and many businesses in the industry place a special emphasis on attending such events on a regular basis to try and meet new contacts and create business.
I've rather begrudgingly developed into a serial networker over my years in Recruitment.
I still remember my first few events as a Recruiter. Back when I was new to the whole networking game. It's fair to say that I didn't particularly enjoy such events back then.
I remember the awkwardness of standing around waiting to catch eye contact with a stranger in the hope of striking up the start of conversation with someone...anyone! It didn't necessarily help being in Recruitment. Us guys can have a bit of a bad reputation at such events as being gatecrashers and the necessary evil that work within the industry. To some at least!
Many years on, and many more events attended and it does get a lot easier and productive. After all, let's not forget, this is why network in the first place. To form contacts and relationships that will eventually lead to business; whether it be directly or indirectly.
As someone who spends a lot of the time on the phone, making business development calls within the industry, I know firsthand that you can slog it out all day making many calls to speak to a limited number of people. However at a networking event, you can often meet many contacts in a short space of time whilst also having some fun and a few drinks at the same time if the events I've attended are anything to go by. Below is a recent photo of myself and my colleague Adam Cadwaladr attending the Lincolnshire RICS event at Southwell Races. Some great contacts made and really fun night...Despite not winning a penny.
I've been talking networking from a recruitment point of view until now, however such networking events can serve a purpose whatever your position in the construction industry. Let's face it, when can you ever have too many contacts in your chosen industry? You never know when that random person you had a 5 mins chat to and exchanged business cards could become of use to you in your career.
You'll meet a number of people at events that are not evidently linked to what you are hoping to gain from such events, however the beauty of networking is that you have a quick chat and just say 'nice to meet you', swap a business card and onto the next. Even if your businesses are not compatible to work together directly, I have found such contacts very useful in an indirect manner. For example, we have a mutual client that would serve as a valuable lead and they have introduced me.
I've found that if you attend regularly organised events and get to know the other members, you will find others actively helping to put you in touch with relevant contacts at the event that you haven't met yet. It can be like you're in a little club and there's a mentality of help thy fellow member.
Maxim have recently just sponsored and attended the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) South East Boat Cruise in London in July. A great fun event with circa 100 useful contacts, cruising down the Thames having a few drinks and networking.
Our Director Steve Thomas is now the Chairman of the Midlands Lighthouse Club Charity which holds regular networking events throughout the Midlands. For those of you not familiar with the Lighthouse Club it's a, it's a registered charity that aims to raise money for workers within the construction industry. Whether it be for needy members who have suffered through illness or an accident at work and need financial assistance. It's a great charity that Maxim has supported on 3 continents.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet fellow professionals in your industry at these organised events. I might just see you there.
Senior Recruitment Consultant – UK & Middle East