I guess you all know the sentence it’s not what you know but who you know. Although I strongly believe that working hard always pays off in life, I would not underestimate the role of networking when it comes to advancing our professional life. On the contrary, I am convinced that networking can be a great asset and a source of information for all of us.
This year I accepted a new professional challenge and decided to move from financial industry to education management. From the very beginning in my new role as a program facilitator at the CEF, I understood how important it is to capture the learning needs of our potential participants, so that we can offer them meaningful and relevant learning events.
My first task as a facilitator was to prepare a webinar on Payments Systems and Financial Inclusion. One month before that, I had attended a conference which was organized by two experts that were supposed to lecture at our webinar. It was a large conference, with more than 150 participants. What was most important for me was that the majority of participants were the perfect targeted audience for the webinar that I was preparing. This was an ideal opportunity and so I decided to take my chance!
The event was structured as a classical conference, consisting of lectures, presentations and panel discussions, with only one time slot on the last day for work in groups. However, the agenda included several coffee and lunch breaks, a boat cruise and a city tour, all offering plenty of informal occasions to try to network with the participants.
Whether with a cup of coffee in my hand or while enjoying the beautiful lake view on the boat, I connected with many conference attendees. They were working in different institutions – central and commercial banks, international organizations – and coming from three continents. On top of that, all of them were dealing with the topic I was mostly interested in: payment systems. We had nice conversations where they told me about their jobs and responsibilities, the professional challenges that they are facing, as well as the areas where they would need more training. They also mentioned what types of training they would prefer and could attend.
All this information was a valuable input for me when I designed the content of the webinar. Together with the experts we made adjustments, so that it would fit the learning needs of the participants, captured during the conference. The webinar turned out successfully. The webinar had participants from more than ten countries and was assessed with grade excellent! Moreover, I shared the insights from the participants with my colleagues, who gave valuable input into designing the forthcoming learning events on payments systems, capital market infrastructure, financial inclusion and education, which are an integral part of the CEF Central Banking Program.
To sum up, informal networking helped me capture the learning needs of my potential participants, to recruit them and to design high-quality learning events. What about you? Do you have a similar story to tell? Feel free to share your experience on informal networking in the comments box below!