Network your way to a new career
By Gemma Raw
If you feel that you’re in a career rut, then perhaps it’s time to take advantage of a wide range of networking opportunities which could be available to you. Networking isn’t just about attending work-related events; it’s about meeting new contacts and building relationships with likeminded peers. You may meet somebody who inspires you, challenges you or encourages you to take the next step in your criminal justice career.
Whether you’re an offender health nurse, a probation officer or part of a youth offending team, networking is a great way to boost your contact book and take advantage of new opportunities. To help you make the most of networking, we’re sharing our advice on how it can truly improve your career prospects.
Find out what opportunities are local to you
If you live or work in a rural area you may feel that your networking opportunities are limited. In some cases, that may be true but it’s always worth looking at professional groups to see what networking events are taking place nearby.
For example, if you’re a working in an offender health nursing role, then keep updated with the latest events hosted by the Royal College of Nursing. Their events page is continuously updated throughout the year, and you may be inspired to attend any of their conferences or workshops.
Similarly, if you are a probation officer and you’re a member of NAPO, you may wish to find out what events they are running. NAPO also have a dedicated events section on their website which showcases their activities across the country.
Networking doesn’t just involve formal conferences and workshops. Simply taking the time to have a coffee with peers before a subcommittee meeting or regional groups can be enough to start building new relationships.
Networking doesn’t have to be daunting
One of the hardest things about networking is starting new discussions with people you don’t know. We understand, this can be nerve wracking but it’s important to remember that you all have a similar interest making it easier to initiate discussions.
Good networking is about building a rapport with fellow attendees. Take the time to ask them what they do, and how long they’ve been working within the criminal justice sector. Remember, it’s not an interview but a conversation – you may find that it drifts off into un-work-related issues, and that’s OK. Connections and relationships are built over time, and if you meet each other again, you’ll remember what you previously spoke about.
If you are meeting someone knew, make sure you take their contact details so that you can connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with somebody.
Have you met your next mentor?
We often suggest that asking someone to act as a mentor is a great way to help you boost your career prospects. A mentor isn’t just someone you can chat to when you’re feeling stressed. A mentor inspires you to see where you want to go in your career and can check back in periodically to see what you are doing to take those steps.
If you’re working in criminal justice, there is a strong chance that you’ll be working with a range of external agencies as part of multi-disciplinary working. You may find that asking someone who works in an external (yet related) sector could be beneficial because they can offer guidance from a different perspective. If you’re keen to get to know other likeminded professionals but you’re unsure where to start, speak to your Sanctuary consultant.