Haris Sitzoglou (MSc Risk Management and Financial Engineering 2008), Director, Credit Agricole CIB and Alumni Advisory Board member shares his thoughts on networking. 

Networking: Pain, necessity, opportunity or can you just enjoy? Or maybe, a bit of it all……. and because if you are reading this you are a Business School graduate (or aspire to be one), I’ll try to put some statistics around it.

Pain:  10%

Sure, but probably overstated as to the amount of pain imposed. At the end of the day, the expression does go ‘no pain, no gain’! It’s true, you might not always have a great time. You might be nervous about after-work drinks with colleagues or dreading that invitation from a supplier to join them at their annual garden party or worried about the law firm who has arranged a private viewing of Renaissance art at the National Gallery, but surely you can also give it a go every now and then? Think about it, it doesn’t sound that bad after all.

Necessity:  20% 

Absolutely. Especially if you have any aspirations to move up the chain in the corporate world and into any decision making, managerial or risk-taking position. It’s not about becoming the shadow of your superiors or the one who gets invited over for Thanksgiving. Some might also argue it’s not for them or feel like ‘I’m not good at politics’. But you just need to look at it from a different perspective. Chances for interaction with senior executives are rare and giving them the opportunity to get to know you better outside strictly office environment gives them a flavour of your personality. Remember though it is only effective if you have the right attitude. On a separate note, it goes without saying that an extensive external network makes you a valuable asset for your firm.

Opportunity:  30%

Do not underestimate the opportunities that come through networking. Especially in times when industries are undergoing structural shifts (think Brexit, FinTech, etc.) the power of one’s network can land you your next job or a new challenge. Not just in times of crisis, but equally so in times of complacency. You can talk to all the head hunters in London, but chances are that the dream job you had in mind never made it to them and just got filled through somebody’s network. Moreover, opportunities don’t just come from moving from one firm to the next or chasing that pay rise, they also come in the form of keeping an open mind about what you can do next in your career or even what you can do in parallel.

It is equally important to network not just with your colleagues and peers, but seek to do so with people from different industries, backgrounds and mindsets in general. It can only expand your horizons. Jobs are evolving constantly and at an ever-growing pace, and networking is certainly a way to stay in front of developments.

Enjoy:  40%

Yes, you actually could! Not for everyone, but if you are a ‘people person’ you can find this incredibly fulfilling and entertaining. Networking doesn’t need to have a specific purpose or an immediate goal. You also don’t need to have a LinkedIn profile with 5,000+ connections and seek to follow up with them all religiously. You certainly can meet people with common interests and hobbies, perhaps people who could start as acquaintances, develop into business partners or even become close friends. 

These weightings are not assigned as a result of a complex mathematical formula, nor are they the same for every individual. They illustrate a perception of how one can view networking and hopefully help form an opinion around the benefits, while finding an answer to “Why bother?”. In an interesting way, assigning weights to the individual components could make you feel positive about networking and boost your confidence next time you find yourself in a relevant situation or event. I urge you to try it!