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How to Connect with Awesome People in Your Industry and Benefit from It

I think back to when I was in my teenage years and had just started my career in learning and development. I worked for a large organisation and as many of us started out, I would prepare everything that happened in the background for workshops, programs and initiatives. I didn’t feel the need to be in the workshops or meet anyone outside of the organisation. I had an awesome team and I learnt so much from them, I was grateful. As the years went on my supervisor started to share with me the importance of networking and meeting others in the industry. I always thought, “Why?” We know the best way of doing things and I already know more than enough awesome people in the industry (well in my building anyway). Little did I realise how wrong I was…

I still remember the first networking event that I went to. There were new faces, fresh perspectives and a whole new learning and development world that I never knew existed - and it was exciting! I continued to attend networking events here and there and always left full of energy and excitement to share what I had learnt with my colleagues.

When I started at Belvista Studios, my eagerness for networking and meeting like-minded people progressed to a whole new level. I was lucky enough to work with someone who shared my passion for human connection and building relationships and it became ingrained in our day-to-day life and business strategy. We had previously worked in a small team and this could often lead to groupthink. We wanted to commit to keeping in touch with our industry to keep current and to continue to improve our processes. We both knew the benefits of working alongside people who share your passion, who you can learn from and who can take you to that next level. We set out on a mission to meet awesome people in the industry, people who we ‘vibed’ with and knew would result in a value-add relationship – from both ends. We have met people through a range of different avenues and learnt a lot about the importance of networking and we would love to share this journey with you, whether you’re an individual working in learning and development or part of a team. I hope these tips can add value to your professional network and will support you in meeting awesome people that become part of your professional tribe. Here is what has worked for us…

1. Get Active on Social Media

A huge inspirational figure of ours has shown us the importance of being active on social media. We thought we would give it a shot and the benefits have been worth it, by far! In the words of the serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck…

“This is dedicated to all the people who are visionary enough to recognise the enormous opportunities we’ve been given in this new digital age, and who are brave enough to demand and seek out happiness not only in their life but also in their work.” 
- Gary Vaynerchuck

I still remember my colleague and the founder of Belvista Studios, Kim, telling me about this guy ‘Gary’ who was sharing his business journey on social media. I didn’t quite get it but I thought I would give him a shot and from the first video I was hooked. Hearing about his journey as an entrepreneur and how many people he had inspired and connected with through that format was captivating.

We started posting blogs, videos, photos and quotes daily and put great effort into connecting with those in our online community. I am not going to lie, it took time to gain any traction. I still remember talking to my colleague and telling her that no one was gaining value or even noticing our blogs or online presence and it almost felt like a waste of time. My colleague assured me to keep persisting and that the right people would come. She was right! Almost as if the flood gates had opened, our connections grew, and we started meeting inspiring and awesome people in the industry – left, right and centre! We began to connect with people through online webcam platforms to chat about what we were working on and get excited by the conversations that we were having with like-minded individuals in the industry. We noticed the positive energy that this was bringing to our solutions and we were not about to stop. I can’t even begin to explain the benefits of building an online network, a lot of these benefits I learnt from meeting people who had also reaped the benefits themselves. You learn so much from hearing different perspectives, you have a network that supports your personal and professional growth and last but not least, you build great friendships.

Share consistent and daily content:
Share what you are up to with your network because you never know who may take an interest, have some advice to share with you or who may feel inspired by what you are doing. This could be a photo of a book you are reading, a project you are working on or a selfie with someone you are collaborating with – put it out there! It is important that what you are posting adds value to your audience. Think about how your posts can create an impact/positive change and then go for it!

Some examples are below:

Post Videos: We find a great way to connect with our network is by posting videos. Whether it’s talking about something you have learnt, what you are up to for the day or a topic that you are passionate about, share it! We found that we received great engagement by doing this and received messages from people who felt aligned with us - resulting in some great connections and friendships. If you find that you have good conversations with your colleagues or connections in the industry, record it! You never know who might find your conversation useful and who may want to continue that conversation with you over a coffee.

2. Attend Co-Working/Networking Events

If you do some research, you are sure to find co-working/networking events in your area that are aligned to your industry. Sign up for a few and test them out. You will find that you will enjoy some more than others and it will give you an opportunity to get yourself out there and see what format you like. Through attending co-working and networking events you will give yourself the opportunity to meet like-minded people and you are likely to learn something new each time.

I personally love attending co-working events. You can take your work and projects along with you, gain inspiration from others, meet awesome people and have some cool conversations. I regret not doing this earlier and have now made a commitment to attend these on a consistent basis. I am already seeing the benefits and I am so grateful for the connections.

At Belvista Studios we loved attending co-working events so much that we decided to run our own in Australia and London with the intent of meeting like-minded people in the industry and creating a group that could collaborate and learn from each-other.

Here are some tips on how to find co-working/networking events:

- Search your industry along with your location on google with keywords such as meet-up, networking and event.

- Download the meet-up app and filter sessions for your industry. This is an app that will show you a range of groups that bring people together with similar passions.

- Have a look at your connections on social media. They will often advertise events that they enjoy and may also run some themselves.

3. Chat to People That You Align With

If you see someone on social media or meet someone at an event that you feel like you align with, follow up with them! Send them a message on LinkedIn or an email and tell them that it was valuable to meet them. You can potentially learn from each other and you may even find projects to collaborate on.

An example of this is someone that we met on social media, who I could tell was on our wavelength (shout out to Spencer Martin!). Spencer and I had been interacting with each other on LinkedIn through posts and messenger. We decided to book in an online call, so we could meet face-to-face – it was totally worth it! We spoke about our passions, what we had been learning in the industry along with engaging in some good old-fashioned humour and banter. After the call my colleague and I were refreshed and enthusiastic about the new possibilities we had discovered along with a fresh perspective from a new friend in the industry. We even decided to record a podcast with Spencer to share with the community as we thought others may benefit from our passionate and enthusiastic chats and as I have said, put content out there because you never know who will benefit from it!

Chatting with our new friend in the industry, Spencer Martin.

So, if you are interested in meeting awesome people in your network, learning from others, hearing new perspectives and being inspired by like-minded people in the industry then give it a go! We trust that these tips will support you in getting yourself out there and building your network, whilst also improving your learning and development craft. Happy connecting!

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