However, it is an essential part of doing business. It can help attract new leads, new ideas and establish a company’s presence in the business community.
As with any skill, practise makes perfect, and it is important to get used to the idea of networking in the early years of your career.
Generation Next supports young professionals aged between 18 and 35 across the East Midlands by developing their skills and networks.
Here are five ways Generation Next can improve networking opportunities for young professionals looking to build their confidence and connections.
Traditional business networking events can be challenging to navigate for young professionals – especially when at the beginning of their careers.
It can create anxieties about whether they’ll be able to strike up a relatable conversation with others in attendance or even around what to wear, often resulting in young professionals skipping networking opportunities.
Networking is an essential skill for anyone in business to possess as it can lead to new business, expertise and building your profile, so it is important the young generation learns how to thrive in these environments.
Taking part in informal networking events tend to break through these walls, and facilitates a more natural way for members of the business community to come together to share ideas and expertise – creating an ideal environment to practise networking tricks and skills.
Generation Next events always aim to put delegates at ease by creating a more informal environment to help them feel more confident to make conversation, and therefore maximise their opportunities. It sources vibrant and up-and-coming venues, such as Derby-based street food venue Bustler Market for its annual awards ceremony, to facilitate this goal.
It can be daunting walking into a room and not recognising a single person you know. This is the reality for the majority of business networking events and is part of the process, but can be an off-putting aspect for many people when out of practise.
Generation Next is backed by a board of “champions” who govern the network, and a group of ambassadors who support the board’s targets each year. The champions and ambassadors have become a key element of the peer-to-peer support on offer through the network.
They support new members when attending their first events with the network, help them make introductions to other members and gather feedback to filter into the Generation Next team to go towards improvements.
To add to the informal nature of Generation Next’s events, the majority will have an activity attached to them – whether that’s arcade games, mini golf or a skills workshop.
In June 2023, the network visited a new venue in Leicester, Sixes Social Cricket, where the members were able to play a game of cricket while networking. An activity can “break the ice” when meeting new people, and can help facilitate a more comfortable environment for members to talk about themselves and their business.
Networking doesn’t have to be boring – it can have a fun element, as well as a business purpose.
Attending networking events can enhance young professionals’ profile across the business community and that of their workplace, so it is important they are encouraged to get out the office.
Alongside the events, Generation Next membership also creates opportunities to take part in case studies, guest blogs and in a mentoring scheme to further enhance members’ connections.
Generation Next is run by East Midlands Chamber – which connects, supports and champions businesses and communities across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
The Chamber has more than 4,000 members, and its board of directors are keen to back Generation Next’s vision to champion and retain young talent in the region. Representatives of the Chamber team and networks are present at the Generation Next networking events, so these are a great springboard for business professionals looking for an introduction to the network.
By becoming a member of Generation Next, you can access our events programme, which comprises of networking events to help you build a professional network, and webinars that each tackle a topic to build your business knowledge and skills. You can also access coaching support through our mentoring scheme, and celebrate your achievements through our annual awards. Enquire today to join.