Using your network to secure your next opportunity

Social mediaThey say it’s not what you know but who you know, and, while situations are rarely that simple, there’s certainly some truth in the adage.

The past 18 months have shown us that there are no guarantees in life or work, so it’s always recommended to keep up with your contacts through the good and bad times.

Sam Spoors, MD of recruitment consultancy Talentheads, knows all too well the value of a strong network when disaster happens.

The rug was pulled from under her feet early on in the pandemic, when the investors in her company pulled out; in the space of a week, she had to let her team go and wind the business down.

Sam says: “I’ve worked in recruitment for nearly 20 years, both in-house and through agencies, so I’ve built up a lot of contacts in that time.

“It was partly thanks to these relationships that I decided to launch my own business; knowing I had so many experienced and talented people in my network to call on for support made a big difference.”

Not only did Sam’s network help her find clients in the early days of her new venture, she also found it was an invaluable source of both moral and practical support.

She says: “Losing my business was a shock, and there was a time where I wasn’t sure what to do next. However, once I decided to set up Talentheads, my network became invaluable.

“I did encounter difficulties when setting up a business without any other staff at first; I had to learn to do roles such as marketing, proposal writing and administration. However, I have surrounded myself with external professionals and shared expertise to learn from the very best.

“Setting a business up in a pandemic was risky but I did it with the support of my network.

“They helped me pick myself up, dust myself off and reminded myself of who I was and what I wanted to achieve.

“They provided me with advice, guidance and a sounding board. Recommendations then started coming my way when they referred me to potential businesses where my values matched the partnership the company recruiting had.”

It is important to remember that networking is a two-way street – in essence, what goes around comes around.

Sam says she is always keen to give something back; after seeing first-hand the power of a strong network, she is always looking to pay it forward.

“Since launching in a pandemic, I’ve been more adaptable to people’s circumstances and focussed on being there for people and the local community, offering free advice and supporting people individually.

“My key to success is all about creating longer-term relationships that are about more than money; I do the right thing and the consequences for a solid business follow.”

Working for herself has also allowed Sam to focus on the other important network in her life – her family.

“I have four children,” she says, “Two blended families of two girls and two boys. My husband is an accountant and, like many, we juggle a young family with our passions and ambitions of fulfilling successful careers.

“Working for myself, with businesses who share my values, means I can focus more on my family, because work does not feel like a chore.

“Thanks to much of my business coming through my contacts, I’ve been privy to that ‘insider information’ on fit – so I know we’re all on the same page.

Getting the inside track on potential leads is just one of the benefits to taking advantage of your existing network, as Sam explains.

“I’ve experienced a lot throughout my working life but there are three key ways to utilise your network to boost your career,” she says.

“Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s not a sign of weakness, seeking recommendations and support from other industry leaders can provide you with incredibly valuable knowledge, and you’ll find that most people genuinely want to help.

“Keep an eye out for opportunities for others too – it’s a great feeling when you can help someone in your network and what goes around comes back around!

“And finally, just be yourself with your network – people want to know you and will identify and engage with the real person, rather than a badge or a logo.

“While the time was right for me to start up on my own, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without my network – I feel more supported and supportive than ever.”

Sam SpoorsAbout the author

Sam Spoors is a recruitment consultant with nearly 20 years of experience. She set up her own firm, Talentheads, in 2020 to offer a new way of recruiting, equipping clients with the tools they need to take control of their own recruitment procedures, adding long-term benefit and a more sustainable way of working.

 


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Many people shudder just on hearing the word ‘networking’ and indeed very few people genuinely love it. However, in most service businesses in particular, it is essential that client facing individuals are confident and skilled enough to get to know people in the marketplace. This is predominantly done at events both in person and online. Without understanding fully why networking is important and how to do it well, the danger is that people either avoid it or they go for a short period, don’t make a lot of effort yet feel they have ‘ticked the networking box’.


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