Personal development - Networking
At whatever point you are in your international career, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels. Keep working towards your next goal by making sure you are developing the right skills and meeting the right people…
It’s who you know…
Even if it wasn’t conscious, you will have built up a lot of useful contacts while you were doing your hospitality training – whether at college, university or on the job. In fact, you will probably know somebody in who already works abroad who could give you some advice, tip you off about a vacancy, or put a good word in for you with their employer.
At work, you should develop good relationships with colleagues and keep in touch with past colleagues. To widen your network, nurture reliable work-related acquaintances who can influence your career.
Making new contacts
Take the opportunity to go to any work-related event, whether it’s an industry conference, dinner, association meeting, or just a social. If it’s formal, get hold of a list of attendees in advance so you can decide who you want to talk to.
Most people feel nervous when they enter a room full of people, so you aren’t the only one. Try to relax and be natural. More likely than not you’ll know at least one person there.
If you speak to somebody you don’t know, you need to introduce yourself clearly and right at the start, telling them your name, where you work and what you do. For instance, “Hello, I’m Tom Smith and I am a sous chef at the Shangri-La.” Keep the conversation flowing by asking what they do.
You can avoid awkward silences by asking open-ended questions that need more than a “yes" or “no" answer. And you’ll find it easier to remember the other person’s name if you keep using it – this also helps them to feel you are interested in them.
It can be awkward ending a conversation – but it needn’t be. Most people will be there to network so simply smile, shake hands and say something like: "It was great talking to you." If the person is particularly interesting or useful, mention that it would be good to chat again and swap business cards before you both move on.
Collecting business cards
If it’s a busy evening, you might find it tricky to remember who everyone was a few days down the line. A handy tip is to use the back of each business card to jot down notes about the person - what they look like, who they know and any interesting comments they made. It’s also worth emailing them after the event to say how nice it was to meet them.
How to behave
Networking is all about business so you need to be positive and professional whenever you meet your contacts so they take away a good impression of you.
For that reason, you should never gossip, either. Apart from anything else, they’ll wonder what you are saying about them behind their back.
Nurturing your contacts
There’s no point making lots of great contacts if you let them fade away. Obviously, you can’t be constantly meeting them all for a pint or a coffee – particularly if you move on to different countries - but you can keep up with their news through email or telephone calls.
No doubt, they will be getting in touch with you, too, so make sure you return their calls – no matter how busy you are.