Whether you’re just starting out in the industry or you’re established and looking to progress your career, networking is fundamentally one of the most important things you can do.
Don’t be a stranger
When I speak to candidates for the first time and ask them what they’ve done before contacting me, I’m often surprised at those who say, ‘I’ve registered with a few agencies online, but nothing’s come of it’. I ask them whether they’ve followed up that registration with an email or phone call to introduce themselves, and also whether they’ve contacted their previous employers to let them know that they’re looking for a new job – now this one may seem a bit unusual but hear me out… it’s important to keep in touch with previous employers, one reason being that I’ll be contacting them for a reference and when they tell me that you’re still in touch regularly & check in with them to ensure contact details are still up to date it relays a sense of professionalism, compared to those I speak to that tell me they haven’t heard from you since you left the boat. It’s more likely to be a more positive reference if you’ve remained fresh in their minds & they’re up to date with the jobs you’ve taken since or the courses you’ve been on. If you haven’t been in contact with your references lately, do it! This is perhaps the simplest networking trick of them all… keep in touch with past employers, chances are they’ve been in the industry longer than you & have good contacts. If you keep in touch & they know that you’re looking, they’ll be more likely to recommend you to their peers.
It’s a no brainer that social media platforms can act as good networking opportunities, the most obvious being LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, create one! It’s an excellent way to network with other crewmembers by joining various groups, sharing your expertise or asking advice. Facebook is another good tool for networking, again you’ll find several yacht groups specific to your department, which you could join to share knowledge between you and start networking! I know an engineer who joined a Facebook group when he started out in the industry a few years ago, he asked sensible questions & demonstrated the knowledge he had from his land-based job, he was eventually offered a great job by a Chief Engineer who he’d built up a relationship with via their Facebook interactions.
Networking in person is without doubt the most beneficial, having direct conversations with other crew is the best way to get your name out there (just ensure it’s for the right reasons!) Whether it be meeting Captains, HODs, or management company reps at the boat shows; meeting your peers on courses; socialising with other boat crew at the various yachting hubs around the world; or having a sit down with a crew agent, speaking face-to-face gives people a better sense of who you are. There are a lot of great crew out there, having the right crew fit can directly contribute to a yacht’s reputation, crew retention & the general working environment on-board so connecting with people in person is key. Try to meet crew
agents in person where you can, it’s always better to put a face to a name – if you’re not in the same location then a video call is the next best thing. Follow up on meetings too, if you do meet with a crew agent/someone at a boat show, drop them an email or WhatsApp afterwards to follow up on your chat & keep you fresh in their mind. This allows for the conversation to continue and opens the door for future contact. Keep in touch with them every now & then (as per my advice regarding previous employers above) to build on the contacts you meet.
Be a good crewmember
Yachting is a small industry where your reputation is everything so be professional & treat people well. Seems obvious doesn’t it?!
That Chief Officer you find a bit odd, be kind & start conversations – you never know, that person may be interviewing you for your dream job when they’re Captain of a prestigious new build in years to come! You never know who you’ll be working for, when your paths will cross again, or when you need them to put in a good word for you!
When a candidate’s not looking confidentially, I’ll often use my contacts to cross check references & if I know someone on a boat they’ve worked on I’ll reach out & ask for their opinion too.
Now you won’t get on with everyone all the time, but you can strive to be a professional & a decent crewmember. I had a great situation today where I’d interviewed a fantastic candidate for a job, I spoke to his references which confirmed that he’s not only a highly skilled engineer but also an all-round brilliant crewmember. I knew my client would be interested in his CV so I sent it over to him. He rang me a few hours later to say that he’d been discussing the CV with his Captain & was overheard by a temporary engineer helping out in the yard. It turns out the temp guy had completed a course with the candidate I’d sent & went on to sing his praises to the Chief Engineer & Captain about how knowledgeable he was on the course – even teaching this guy a thing or two. It goes to show that no matter who you meet in yachting, it’s a small world and you never know when your paths will cross again.
I’ll finish this blog with some wise words from Adam Grant, an Organisational Psychologist who runs the ‘WorkLife’ TED podcast. Here are a few extracts I particularly liked from the transcript of ‘Networking for People Who Hate Networking’;
You don’t have to start by building your contact list. You can start by building your skills. Because having expertise to share sets you up to connect with interesting people. Research shows that mastering your craft helps you build connections.
The best network isn’t always built where the people are the most influential. It’s in the places where you can be the most influential. Where you can stand out with your contributions. So instead of choosing the most prestigious organisation, you might end up with a better network at the organisation that does the most promotions from within, or that’s growing the fastest—where you can progress the quickest.
I hope you’ve found some useful snippets of information in this blog & if we haven’t spoken in a while (or at all) please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org