This traditional thatched cottage in in Co Mayo is on sale for €179,000
This traditional thatched cottage in in Co Mayo is on sale for €179,000

Megan Burns

11 summer-proof foundations to see you through a heat wave
11 summer-proof foundations to see you through a heat wave

Holly O'Neill

7 fun wedding reception games to get everyone in the party mood
7 fun wedding reception games to get everyone in the party mood

Lauren Heskin

August 11: Today’s top stories in 60 seconds
August 11: Today’s top stories in 60 seconds

Sarah Gill

Irish women in film: Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, ACE, film editor
Irish women in film: Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, ACE, film editor

Meg Walker

5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life
5 inspiring self-help books that will change your life

Jennifer McShane

Is this weariness from perimenopause, wine, summer pressure or back to school prep?
Is this weariness from perimenopause, wine, summer pressure or back to school prep?

Lizzie Gore-Grimes

The best summer 2022 beauty trends to try
The best summer 2022 beauty trends to try

Holly O'Neill

Letizia Lopreiato: Meet the artists showcasing at the Dean Art Studios
Letizia Lopreiato: Meet the artists showcasing at the Dean Art Studios

Sarah Finnan

Supper Club: Indian griddle chopped chicken salad
Supper Club: Indian griddle chopped chicken salad

Meg Walker

Image / Editorial

How to begin networking in baby steps


By Colette Sexton
19th Apr 2019
How to begin networking in baby steps

Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on how to make valuable contacts in your industry by networking.


It’s not what you know — it’s who you know. It is a cliché. It is said too often. And, unfortunately, it is true. Every one of us can remember an opportunity that was within our grasp until the decision maker pulled it away and gave it to someone they had a personal connection with. Many of us would be lying if we said that once or twice we were in those shoes and opted for the person we knew because they have always been reliable, friendly or helpful. It is unfair but it is the way the world works and it is impossible to change that. But what you can do is change who you know.

Related: How to network when you’re shy

Widening your circle of people in your professional life can have a very positive impact on the opportunities that come your way. I know networking is hard and it is much easier to slip off home after work than drag yourself to some event where you talk some more about work. But it is worth it. Here are some tips for effective networking:

  1. Pick something to go to

This might seem very basic but promising yourself you’ll network more and actually doing it are worlds apart. Pick an appropriate event (if you have to pay for a ticket, even better — you are far more likely to actually go). Make sure it’s not on a day that you know will be really busy so you can’t talk yourself out of going.  

  1. Go alone

If you go to an event by yourself, you’ll be forced to talk to other people instead of chatting to whoever you came with. You’ll also find that people will approach you to initiate a conversation if you are alone more often than if you bring a buddy along. If no-one approaches you, be brave and start a conversation with someone. It can be as easy as asking if they have been to one of those events before, or complimenting their handbag.  

  1. Introduce yourself with context

When you meet someone, tell them your full name, where you work, and maybe throw in a line about why you’ve come along. This gives them a little context which can help the conversation flow easily. Make sure to bring along some business cards with you and have them to hand, instead of having to rummage in a bag for them. If you give a business card, people tend to give you one back and hey presto, you have their contact details.

  1. Bring other people into the conversation

Great, you’ve gone to an event, said hello to someone, and now you are chatting. Keep an eye out for any other lone wolves that might need rescuing and try to bring them into your conversation. The networking gods will look kindly on you.

  1. No events, no problem

If you work in an industry that doesn’t tend to have very many relevant events, you can still network. Pick people who have careers you would like to emulate, or work in companies you find interesting, email them and ask to meet for a coffee. Yes, it requires putting yourself out there but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

  1. Don’t get disheartened

You are not going to get offered a new job or win an amazing contract on the very first day you network or start relationship building. In fact, it might take years for it to pay off. Just have patience and the hard work will be worth it in the long run.