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Stephen Crowe

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For some people it can be quite easy to approach someone in a room full of people and begin a conversation. For others, it can be extremely uncomfortable and something you approach with confusion, hesitation, and for some a sense of dread.

I know personally when I attend a networking event, I get nervous. Like public speaking, you are in a room full of complete strangers. Because you are connecting with someone new it takes time to let your guard down. You may fear what people think of you, and without trying to judge, we often do on our first meeting.

But connecting with others is vital for business and career success. So perhaps it isn’t ‘networking’ itself that we don’t enjoy so much as how we approach the concept of networking. For many, networking = attending networking events, handing out business cards and “hard-sell”. It can seem fake, pretentious and impersonal.

I have been in situations where I get approached by individuals who try and find out where I rank in the company so that they can try and sell me a service without any interest in who I am or what I do. And I am afraid to admit that there are too many people out there that do this, and I find it exhausting. However, the definition of networking is:

Networking: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. (Miriam Webster)

So how can we turn our perception of networking around from “fake” to “productive”?

I tend to approach individuals in networking situations that aren’t in a big social group or who aren’t walking to each individual collecting a handful of business cards. I find that often the quiet person in the room is often the most interesting person to engage with, and at the same time I often lend them a bit of relief by approaching them first if networking isn’t their strong point.

So let’s begin with outlining the benefits of networking. I found a blog post from Flora Lowther on The Undercover Recruiter website who describes the benefits below:

Networking has the ability to open many windows and doors to anyone at any stage of their career. Meeting and talking to the right people can earn you free advice, awareness of you and your company, word-of-mouth referrals and if done correctly, networking has the potential to gain you credibility, trust, professionalism, knowledge and expertise.

Keeping all of this in mind, the next two questions you should ask yourself would be what is my current networking approach? What areas could I improve upon or change?

What makes us appear at our best when we attend a networking opportunity? The Undercover Recruiter blog goes on to describe the dos and don’ts which I have summarised below:


  • Put your best foot forward – Say hello and engage, chances are the person is just as nervous as you are.
  • Elevator pitch – We have discussed this in previous blogs, make the time that you have count with that person. Don’t bore them with a long winded story about your life. Keep them engaged, bring out the best in you in the time that you have and make it memorable.
  • Business cards – Make sure that you have enough with you. I have been to a couple of networking events where people have run out or ‘forgot’ their business cards. How do you expect people to remember you if you don’t have your company details on hand? Even if you don’t get contacted right away after and event, people can keep your business cards and when they require your services later down the track they at least have a means of contacting you.
  • Follow up – Touching base after an event is nice because it is easy to get caught up in your work routine or get distracted, but a follow up call reconnects you with that individual and shows your keen interest in maintaining that professional relationship from that point forward.
  • Listen and learn – Remember you can’t offer the right services if you cannot establish the wants and needs of the other person. Take the time to listen to what they want and share information with each other. You never know what you can gain from someone else’s information or experiences.
  • Quid-pro-quo – You cannot expect to get something without offering anything in return. Perhaps establish offers ahead of time before the networking event and negotiate with that individual.
  • Patience is a virtue – Don’t expect to reap the rewards immediately. Good things come to those who wait.
  • Prepare questions – Anticipate the kind of people you are likely to meet and think about what you would like to ask them, what you would like to learn from them.


  • Don’t be timid – This can often involve going to the ‘safe option’ of talking to people that you already know. I am guilty of this too, but networking isn’t just for the flamboyant big shots or charismatic colleagues. We need to step outside of our comfort zone sometimes.
  • Don’t only speak to one person – The more people the better, for your own brand awareness and your organisation.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Everyone is scared of appearing ignorant or stupid but there is no need. After all we are also attending networking events to gain knowledge and experiences from others too right?
  • Avoid overzealous self-promotion – This tactic is more likely to annoy than build valuable relationships.
  • Don’t forget to follow up – Remember there are also social media connections such as LinkedIn where you can connect and send a follow up email. And if you initiate a ‘coffee’ meeting, make sure you stick with your promise and organise it within a time frame after the event.
  • Don’t get drunk – Especially at the more informal meet-ups, there is the chance they will be serving alcohol.

I think one way or another we have been guilty of a few don’ts. But we are all human beings, and we are often in the same boat. So instead of fearing the individuals in the room or ranking them far higher above than you, place them on the same playing field and approach them to make conversation. What is the worst that can really happen?

If you don’t make a connection with one person out of five it is not the end of the world. We can’t please everyone, but at least you have made the effort.

Ever had a networking experience that opened doors or took you on an unexpected journey? We would love to hear your stories.


Last week’s blog post focused on the qualities and characteristics of top temps.

This week, we continue with our temp theme, but from the perspective of companies and the various reasons the choice to use temporary staff makes good business sense for them. 

“The number of temporary employees in Australia has grown dramatically over the last 20 years with just over 400,000 people currently employed on a temporary basis.” *

Whilst a business may and should have a stable core team, there are many instances where additional staff members may be needed. A temporary employee can fulfil many objectives within a business. They can provide cover for absent employees, expertise and skills where there are gaps, project or leadership expertise if/when required and general flexibility for employers, who are cautious about making a permanent hire.

We polled our client readership last week and asked: “What is happening in your business now that makes hiring a temp the best solution?”


#1 = Ad-hoc needs, eg: special projects, tenders, etc – 36%

#2 = Seasonal workload increases – 27%

Head-count constraints – 18%

Inability to source suitable permanent staff – 9%

Supporting flexible workplace planning practices – 9%

As Jeff Doyle, Adecco Group CEO says, using temporary staff fosters great flexibility, and “enables companies to adjust their labour supply to meet the peaks and troughs of their business needs and it helps them access a range of specialist skills as and when required. In addition, companies use temporary labour to save costs”. **

Hiring a temporary candidate can enable businesses to afford someone that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford to hire permanently. Temporary candidates are often highly qualified and experienced and they can add enormous value to a business in the short term.

 “Temporary employment is a strong favourite at the big end of town with all Top 200 ASX listed companies supplementing their workforce with temporary employees.” *** 

Another major reason, though not one of the questions asked in our poll, that companies hire temps is the ‘risk reduction factor’ of a ‘temp-to-perm’ arrangement.

This employment is very common, especially of those employers ‘cautious about making a permanent hire’ cited above, whether this caution stems from head-count or budgetary constraints, or a previous disappointing permanent hiring experience.

Our Temporary Recruitment Consultant, Melissa Lombardo, asked Karli Scully, Macquarie Leasing’s Customer Service Supervisor, why hiring temporary staff works for her team’s needs: “So we can try before we buy … plus we don’t know what the volume of work will be in the future.” Risk-reduction and flexibility are both part of the equation here!

In a temp-to-perm arrangement, a temporary contract is awarded as a trial to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role before hiring them permanently. On the whole, there is less risk involved in hiring a temporary worker. If they choose to hire an individual on an hourly or daily rate, they won’t lose out financially if the candidate suddenly decides to leave the business.

So, how do businesses source their temporary workforce? Well, the “number one method of finding suitable staff for organisations of all sizes is through recruitment agencies”. **** If your business requires temporary staff members for any of the reasons discussed here, our 20+ years of temporary recruitment expertise is here to fulfil your needs. Learn more about our temporary staff services here. 

[Sources: *, **, ***, **** from www.hcamag.com article “Demand for Temp Labour in Australia Explodes”]


What is The Challenge Consulting Blog all about? We’re glad you asked! In essence, we wish to put the wonders of modern technology and social media to work to unite the Challenge Consulting community.

We work with clients and candidates nationally and internationally from diverse backgrounds and industries. The Challenge Consulting Blog is our way of bridging the divide and providing an informal, safe, relaxed forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the ever-changing world of recruitment, staff development and career management.

Our goal is not to be didactic or dry, but rather to present in a real and entertaining way the experiences, ideas and opinions of our talented team of consultants working daily on the front line of candidate and client management. We also want to provide our readers with the latest national and global industry trends, ideas and innovations, and to invite you to get involved via your comments and feedback.

Penny Robertshawe writes and manages our blog. Penny recently joined the Challenge Consulting team after taking over from Jenna Baril in June 2015. Penny’s background is in writing, editing and designing learning. Over the years, she has written for websites, magazines, professional journals and for the vocational education sector.

Penny is passionate about using writing as a vehicle to help people realise their potential and to give them tools for making a positive difference in their lives. Her aim is to inspire her readers to take action and make any changes they feel they need.

Penny is keen to hear your feedback about the Challenge Consulting blog so she can find out more about the kinds of things you would like to read about. So stay tuned and keep in touch.