EVENTS & INSIGHTS / INSIGHT

3 tips for turning networking into a job in sustainability or CSR

by Shannon Houde

Many of us dread the fact that networking is the smartest way to navigate the sustainability jobs market, so how can you make sure that you’re doing it right?

In today’s blog post, I want to share with you a great article I came across on Entrepreneur.com that sets out 7 Key Habits of Super Networkers.

The reason that networking is even more important for the sustainability sector is that the agenda is still evolving and is uncharted territory compared to traditional commercial career tracks like finance, marketing, or operations.  Many sustainability professionals accidentally fell into the role or have only been in this space for less than five or ten years.  The “green” or environmental agenda has gained so much traction over the last decade that companies are beginning to see the value in identifying risks and opportunities related to sustainability.

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What this means though is that sustainability roles are not universally clearly defined, organisational charts are not standardised, terminology (CSR, sustainability, sustainable business, corporate citizenship) is not consistent so it is even harder to chart a job search.  Therefore networking is the number one way to get a job in sustainability.  My three tips for making this happen are:

1 – Do it daily!

Each and every day set one goal to do something “networky”.  Make a new contact, pick up the phone and call someone you read about, ask a friend for a new lead.  Sign up for conferences, events and LinkedIn and branch out beyond your job description.  Make connections across sectors, specialties and levels of seniority.  Doing one thing daily makes it less ominous.  But you will gain momentum.  It took me 1 year of writing blogs before I started hearing from new clients who actually read them.  What you put in is what you get out – and that definitely holds for networking for jobs.

2 – Know your stuff

As the Entrepreneur.com author points out, using social media to engage with your network the best platform in today’s internet age.  And it makes networking so much easier.  Use Linked In, blogs and Twitter to find out what people in your network are interested in and engage in the conversation. This is a great way to approach new people at conferences and business events, too: walking up to a complete stranger is much easier if you know you can discuss a fantastic report you read on Twitter last week in their sector, so do your homework.  The more informed you are about your sector the more interesting and valuable you will be to your expanding network.

3 – You reap what you sow

In the same way, get to know people in the niche part of the sustainability sector you want to be in, people who hold your dream job, and learn their story. How did they get where they are? What did they learn on the way?  What are their biggest challenges in their role now?  Who do they use to recruit new talent?

That said though, it’s important to give as well as take. How can you use your network to help your connections? Can you share ideas, articles and reports you’ve found useful? Can you help a contact with a challenge they’re facing by introducing them to someone else you know?  Perhaps refer others to jobs you have seen advertised?  Make sure when you approach someone in your network that you are offering something in return.

Your network is worth its weight in gold when it comes to advancing your career in sustainability, make sure you nurture it.  Daily!

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