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How to get more career value from networking events

Published: 2 years, 2 months ago

By Brendan turner


It’s been a busy event season for our sister companies The Faculty and Procurious over the last month, with roundtables, conferences, summits, dinners and awards held across Australia, London and even broadcast to the wider profession of online ‘digital delegates’ around the world.


The rewards of building new relationships with peers across the procurement profession are obvious for those looking to progress their careers, either targeting a new role or trying to break into a new industry. Getting your foot in the door and impressing the decision makers of a procurement team face-to-face can place you ahead of the pack when it comes to recruiting time.


But it’s not just professionals looking for a career change that should be making the effort to regularly attend industry events. A drive to learn and continually improve is a key trait most recruiters look for in a candidate and what better way to learn than by hearing first-hand how other procurement professionals succeed and overcome challenges faced by the whole profession. Even the most seasoned CPO can pick up new ideas and gain some valuable insights by speaking with their colleagues across different industries.


So whether you’re recruiting for your team, looking for career opportunities, in need of strategic advice or looking to boost your professional connections, here are some tips for getting more value from networking events:


Set your networking goals:

Think about what you want to get out of attending an event or making a new connection. Do you want to learn new strategies you can apply in your role? Do you want a new job? Do you want to find a new strategic partner or supplier? Are you looking for an up and coming procurement talent to join your team now or into the future? What your networking goal is will help you decide what events are worth attending and allow you to decide who to meet and how to talk with them.


Choose your events and targets:

Each event will attract a different audience and offer different learning opportunities. For example the Future Leaders in Procurement (FLiP) event brings together Australia’s next generation of commercial leaders under one roof and offers both an interactive learning experience for up and coming talent, but also a rare opportunity for CPOs to present their team and organisations to potential candidates.


On the other hand, events like CPO Forum are a once-a-year opportunity for leading Chief Procurement Officers to engage with peers and like-minded business leaders in an intimate and interactive setting.


Before the event you should think about your goals, who’s likely to attend the event and then make a list of the 5-10 people you’d really like to meet at the event and do some research about each of them and their organisations so you can tailor your conversation/talking points appropriately.


Prepare your pitch:

You may only get 2 minutes to speak with one of your targets at the event so it’s important to have something valuable to say to make a lasting impression. You should prepare a short 15-second elevator pitch summarising who you are, what you do, what you’re trying to achieve and why they should remember you. Be clear and concise but most importantly speak with passion and show your enthusiasm – that’s what people remember.


This pitch step went a little further at both recent CPO Forum and Big Ideas events, where delegates shared their one “big idea” for the procurement profession via video. Around 20 big ideas from the Procurious think-tank of 40 of the profession’s brightest minds are already available on the Procurious network, and people from all around the world are still submitting their short elevator pitches to the profession’s online networking platform.


Get your digital house in order:

On the topic of social media, it’s important to remember that building your professional network extends beyond physical events and face-to-face interactions. The key is to build your online presence and make yourself accessible to your peers online. Whether you’re a natural social media junkie, or prefer to remain private online, it’s a fact of the modern business world that you need a strong on-line profile in order to be perceived as an attractive employer or candidate.


So at a minimum you need to create a LinkedIn and Procurious profile and make sure it’s up-to-date with job history and appropriate contact details so new contacts can easily find you online, learn more about your skills and experience and get in touch if needed.


Networking doesn’t end when the event does:

Make sure you follow up with your new contacts online or with a phone call. Meeting someone once at a networking event generally won’t lead to a job offer or make you lifelong friends. The truth is people in the procurement profession are busy so it’s important to take the initiative and make contact soon after an event and continue to stay in contact.


So while the job offers or brilliant ideas might not come flooding in after your first industry event, if you continue to invest the time and resources into building your professional network, I’m sure you will soon find that every new contact has something valuable they can offer and hopefully you will find giving back to your peers and the procurement profession just as rewarding.