After two years of pandemic and lockdowns the world is now opening back up and we are all returning to the office and face to face meetings. This also means a welcome return to networking in person including the GAI Community Hubs. Held between four and eight times during the year, across 11 regions, the meetings are predominantly a CPD event but, more crucially, they are an opportunity for networking, socialising , getting together with peers and talking to others in the industry from outside your own company.
The GAI will also be holding product evenings where attendees will get a chance to meet suppliers and get hands-on with product.
“CPDs are still online for those who can’t make Hub meetings,” says Sam Thatcher, the chair of the Community HUBs, “but when you are in a room for a live presentation there is more discussion, more talk around the topic and more Q&As, so you gain more knowledge. It’s also great for the presenter who can engage with the audience – something which is much harder in virtual classrooms.”
Face to face meetings are so important for social interaction as well, says Sam. “It’s something we all need after being home for so long. It is more beneficial for our mental health and even our physical health, as working from home and then attending a virtual CPD means we were often sitting at a desk for an entire day and not even moving to leave the house.”
And face to face events can give your career a boost. “There is nothing like being in a room,” adds Sam. “Meeting other people in your industry can really elevate you in career terms, especially if you’re a presenter. You can explain things and position yourself as an expert as well as meet people.”
Hub events are open to all and students are particularly encouraged to attend. “If you’re starting out in your career, education is super important – and these are fantastic learning opportunities, as well as meeting people who could advance your career. It’s a very welcoming atmosphere and Hub ambassadors will be welcoming newcomers with open arms.”
The 11 regional Hubs are: Scotland, North and Borders, North Central, Wales, Ireland, Midlands, South Central, South West, South East, GCC and Hong Kong. View Hub events at gai.org.uk/events.
5 reasons to network
1. It boosts your career. Using your network is one of the best ways to find a new job or a new role at your current company. Networking can open doors to new opportunities that might be out of reach otherwise. Building relationships can be the key to making huge strides in your career path.
2. It contributes to your social wellbeing. Networking can help you develop lifelong friends but all contact in person has benefits and after two years of WFH meeting in person is even more beneficial.
3. It leads to the exchange of ideas. New ideas can keep you growing professionally and trying new things. Hearing what other people are doing at their companies can also inspire you to bring new skills to your job. Discussing your work with new connections offers a unique perspective. It also enhances motivation and creative thinking.
4. It helps you meet people at various professional levels. Accessing senior managers can be difficult in some organisations. This is where networking can introduce you to more experienced professionals and access their wisdom and career advice.
Senior management might also find potential new talent for their business.
5. It can make you more confident.
Professional networking is an exercise in confidence and actually a great place to practise your confidence. Put yourself out there and speak about what matters to you. Even if you’re shy or have never attended an event, just turning up is a step in gaining confidence.