2. Define a vision

“If you decide to go ahead and start up a network, the first step is to define your aim. It sounds simple, but it is key to building a shared vision. Also define measurable targets. Everyone likes to be on a winning team and showing results can be a great boost.

Even if you think a network will grow only slowly, life can surprise you. Recognise that organisational planning at the beginning goes along with a vision of what success would look like in ten years. This will help you look for opportunities.

In 1999, the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Society in the Netherlands was founded. There was already a similar network in the Netherlands for investment professionals. The network needed financial sponsorship, but had no achievements to share with potential sponsors. The vision statement set the right direction and convinced the first sponsors to help build the foundation of the society. Since 1999, the membership base has grown to over 700 members today.”

3. Get the right team to help you set up the network

“There is nothing wrong with approaching influential people to join your team. However, enthusiasm and diversity should be more important to get the right team together to drive a network forward.

In 2005, the Platform for Professional Women networks (PFPWN) was founded in the Netherlands. The Platform connects women’s networks from various companies, including profit and non-profit organisations. The platform started small with only six members. Each network provided a board member with complimentary skill sets. A Communications Professional was nominated by Unilever, an HR Professional by Cap Gemini, a Finance Professional by the Shell Women’s Network and a Change Manager by Ahold.

The Chairs of the women’s networks could have been the logical choice as board members. However, it was unlikely that they would have had the time to drive the network. The enthusiasm of the first board paid off. Within three years after founding, the platform had tripled in size.”

4. Get something on the calendar asap

“To start a network, you need an event so you have something specific to invite people to. But just as important, already get a second event into the calendar too, so people leave the first event with something else to look forward to and get excited about.”

5. Be willing to promote your network in any way possible

“Many people seem to have a natural talent for speaking in public. Others are great writers. If you are one of those, congratulations! If not, don’t let this stop you from promoting your network.

Promote your network anytime and anywhere. This could be in the elevator moving from the 1st floor to the 4th floor. This could be via an article in My News. Someone with a clear vision combined with strong drive, will usually be able to sell their vision to others, irrespective of any talents they may have for writing or public speaking.

Networks can help you meet new people and advance your career. They helps you build skills, such as speaking in public, writing articles, building content for a website. Networks increase the value of collaboration by reducing the search and co-ordination costs of connecting parties who have related knowledge and interest.

And what is more important, they are fun.”

Shell currently has a number of finance career opportunities open, search our job vacancies for more information and to apply.