Networking: Turns out it’s actually quite a good idea
If someone asked me a few years ago what networking was, I would honestly have replied with a description of white-collar businesspeople at glamourous events, martini in hand, distributing cards and exchanging phone numbers. (I fully blame this on my addiction to Suits).
To be fair, I never really understood the importance of it all and figured the only networking you could do was in corporate companies with important clients and flashy business cards, so what use would I have for it?
When lockdown first began, and we were banished indoors for weeks on end I decided it was a good time to start a few projects that I had been continuously ‘planning’ but never actually doing. This meant sitting in front of my laptop for hours on end figuring out WordPress so I could actually start this blog, and creating logos to begin my very own Teaching Instagram. After numerous cups of coffee and even more annoyance at my lack of technical ability, everything was finally prepped, created and ready to go.
I then realised I had to actually get people wanting to follow me and persuade them that they did in fact want to sit and read the ramblings of a 22-year-old.
I won’t lie, it was at this point that I closed my laptop down and procrastinated for approximately a week (this involved downloading and becoming slightly obsessed with TikTok).
Why? Because I had absolutely no idea how to network.
Put me in a room with people and I will do my best to make friends and create a good impression, but I never really thought about how to do this online when you can’t necessarily just ‘have a quick chat’ and bond over what you’re drinking.
A week into my procrastination I started to realise why some of my friends use things like LinkedIn and why they actually post relevant information, regularly. The saying ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ became very true and I found myself sat with an empty Instagram account and a list of blog ideas, but absolutely no one (barring my ever supportive friends and family) to show.
I quickly hopped on to my incredibly disappointing LinkedIn profile, stared at the picture of myself at 16 years old on work experience, and decide I needed to learn to network and fast.
Fast forward a few days (and a lot of yelling at my boyfriend when I couldn’t work LinkedIn), and I now had a semi-professional looking page, complete with an up to date photo. I then sat for hours and sent a connection request to anyone who had as much as looked my way at University (sorry about that Lboro folk), but now my page was starting to look less empty and more like it belonged to a relatively professional graduate.
From there, I moved onto Instagram and began to search for anyone I knew from school or University who had gone into teaching. Thankfully, I came across an amazing trainee teacher, who despite the fact we hadn’t spoke in over 5 years answered any questions I had and introduced me to the world of Teachergram.
After realising the only way I knew how to get likes was through posting well-lit and well-dressed pictures, something that I didn’t think would benefit me that well on a teaching account, I quickly set to work following every account I could find relating to teaching, education and anything in between.
This was all well and good, my Insta was filled with crazily inspiring people, but what I still didn’t get was how to get those people to care about me and my work.
Every answer I found pointed me to networking.
I ensured I was active on Insta every day, liking people’s pictures, commenting on posts, and entering every giveaway I could find purely to get my name out there. I shared interactive stories, messaged accounts that inspired me and continued to follow more and more amazing people. After a few days, my number of followers slowly started creeping up and after a few weeks people were starting to like my posts and comment on the things I produced.
I promise that was not meant to be a cheesy rags to riches story, and in no way do I think I have an Insta following (I can dream), but trust me anyone who you message, no matter how annoying or pushy you think you’re being, will more than likely message you back.
I’ve messaged people who produce incredible podcasts and authors of amazing books and to be honest half of the time they reply and they’re actually super nice. I have also joined about 100 Facebook groups such as ‘Gals who graduate’ and ‘Gals who teach’ and oh my word the people you find on there are so lovely!
I have met some of the most inspiring people through just dropping them a message on Social Media, I have been on CPD zoom calls and read other amazing blogs (one of these being the brilliant twodegreesoneblog.com) that have inspired me so much, and I have made some amazing friends.
What I am trying to say is that I never knew networking was important. I never really knew what it was. Whereas now I’m creating something that solely relies on people interacting with it, I don’t know how I ever lived without it!
When you graduate, getting a job is scary and we are all in the same boat (anyone else fancy running off to Greece Mamma Mia style?) but the more people you know and the more connections you have the more likely you are to find help.
So, pick up your phone, get searching for some Facebook groups on topics that interest you and network, network, network. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read this and if you want to network with me just drop me a message, I love a good chat!