Networking can help any professionals — including risk managers — drive career advancement. While having a robust network is often critical to finding new opportunities, the Harvard Business Review learned that on average our networks shrank by 16% during the pandemic. Here are five tips to help you develop your own network and grow your connections within the broader risk community:
1. Become Active in an Industry Association
One of the most powerful tools for connecting with your peers and future prospective bosses is joining an industry association. Industry associations like the Global Association of Risk Professionals attract members at all levels, from individuals who are early in their careers to executive risk leaders. As part of a dedicated community of risk professionals, you can take part in events, network through local societies and Chapters, and identify and connect with knowledgeable individuals who can help you progress in your career. Shared association membership can also help you break the ice and start up conversations with common ground already established.
2. Take Part in Risk Events and Conferences
Another way to meet people in your industry is to attend conferences. Risk industry events feature a wide range of formats, from large annual conferences to virtual networking events to closed-door industry mastermind affairs. Consider your strengths, weaknesses, and goals, and choose events that align with them. For instance, if you're more introverted and find large events overwhelming, digital networking opportunities and smaller events can help you stand out while remaining in your comfort zone.
Make the most of industry events by exploring who is speaking and attending before you go. Have a list of the people you'd like to connect with, even if you just start a conversation to be continued in a different format. Setting clear goals for attending industry events can help you come away with more useful networking wins.
3. Don't Overlook the Power of Internal Networking
In a recent interview, Robert Iommazzo, Executive Recruiter and Managing Partner of executive search firm SEBA International, noted that risk professionals should spend some time networking within their own organizations. Risk management is a complex field that touches on many functional areas. Establishing relationships within your company can provide you with valuable insights into the factors that drive different areas of the business. Take part in company events, attend parties and networking opportunities, and look for ways to join cross-disciplinary groups within your firm that align with your interests.
4. Establish an Active Presence on LinkedIn
While social media isn't always helpful in your professional life, there is one network that is. Establishing a presence on LinkedIn is a great way to shape the narrative of your work background in a way that potential employers can view. What are your interests? What are your strengths? What achievements would you want a potential connection to know about you? A strong LinkedIn profile can be an asset when you're connecting with hiring managers, who will consider these kinds of questions.
A LinkedIn account is also a good way to centralize the contacts you meet through other networking efforts as it gives you a natural way to stay in touch. Consider sharing helpful content with your contacts or occasionally reaching out to check in. In addition, LinkedIn can be a good platform for reaching out to a prospective contact. If you're not sure what to say, the Harvard Business Review has a guide for many types of LinkedIn conversations with easily adaptable scripts.
5. Interact With Your Regulators
As risk roles become more senior, individuals in these positions will often need to interface with external stakeholders, such as regulators. To become more comfortable with navigating these interactions, explore opportunities to connect and build trusting relationships with government officials in your space. Establishing these connections may require a strategic approach. For example, financial regulators often hold sessions for industry members, and showing up regularly to these sessions, asking good questions, and staying to chat afterwards with presenters can be a great and natural way to build a network in that space.
Is it time to dust off your networking plans and create some new connections? If so, you're not alone. Whether your goal is to remain informed about changes in your industry or plan for your next career move, keep these networking tips in mind and always put your best foot forward as you work to grow your network of business contacts.