By Sue Dight, regional director Australia and PNG, Mission to Seafarers

In the ever-evolving landscape of business and professional development, the value of networking with cross industry peers and professionals cannot be overstated. Networking goes beyond the exchange of business cards (if your business still allows you the joy of the exchange) and pleasantries; it’s a powerful tool that can open doors, foster collaboration and propel ideas to new heights.

At its core, networking is about building relationships. When you are approached by someone from the industry you shake hands with your hand vertical – ready to create an equal relationship. When someone from a charity approaches (if you haven’t run away already) it is also about a vertical handshake, not a hand out. It’s about forging connections with you – someone who shares common interests, goals and expertise. These relationships can be the foundation for future collaborations, partnerships, and opportunities or creating a shared commitment to a common purpose. When you network with welfare providers, you have the chance to learn from their experiences, gain insights into industry trends and understand what is happening in your region.

The value of networking extends beyond individual gain. It also plays a pivotal role in advancing environmental, social and governance goals. Networking, at its core, is about building relationships, and these relationships can be a powerful catalyst for positive social change and responsible corporate behaviours.

Social drivers within the ESG framework

Before diving into the impact of networking on advancing ESG goals, let’s briefly underscore the significance of social drivers within the ESG framework. ESG represents a holistic approach to assessing a company’s impact on the environment, society and its governance practices. The S in ESG, signifying social, encompasses factors related to a company’s influence on society, including labour practices, employee relations, community engagement and diversity and inclusion. That’s where the Mission to Seafarers and all welfare providers fit in.

Be a catalyst for social change: Inclusive networking, advocacy and influence

Effective networking entails engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and community representatives. These interactions yield invaluable insights into societal concerns and expectations, enabling companies to tailor their ESG strategies to align with those needs. Invite your local Mission representatives to your next meeting or event.

In terms of advocacy and influence, as well-connected professionals you wield a more influential voice when championing positive social change. Individuals and organisations alike can collaboratively advocate for policies and practices that champion social justice and sustainability. We need your voice; let us tell you our story so you really understand what the needs are.

Reciprocity in advancing ESG objectives

Just as in any form of networking, reciprocity plays a pivotal role in advancing ESG goals. The exchange of ideas, resources, and support within the professional community ensures that progress is achieved collectively. In the context of ESG, reciprocity signifies not only seeking to benefit from social drivers but also actively contributing to the enhancement of society as a whole. The values of the Mission to Seafarers connect closely with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. At our core we are called to fight for justice, to be kind in actions and protect the planet and its people. SDG is the corporate way of saying all of this. Let’s catch up to see how it is directly linked to the Mission.

A handshake transcends mere business etiquette; it stands as a cornerstone for professional growth, collaborative innovation, and societal transformation. As the industry continues to evolve and collaborate on so many levels, the value of networking in advancing ESG goals and promoting positive social change becomes increasingly evident. It’s not just about a handshake; it’s about harnessing the power of relationships to drive positive impact and responsible corporate behaviour. So, let’s connect and collaborate, and together, we can shape a brighter future for your businesses and the people that power shipping.