Table of contents
The kind of networking we are discussing here is professional networking and not computer networking.
What Does Networking Mean?
Networking is an art which involves exchanging ideas and information through meeting new people, making new friends, industry acquaintances, and even business partners. Networking can be done informally through events, your offices or industry associations or formally, by connecting with specific individuals you want to meet via email, LinkedIn or other means.
Networking is not only about trading information, but also serves as an avenue to create long term relationships with mutual benefits.
Networking is something you need to practice frequently, not just when you're ready to switch things up in your professional life. It isn't only limited to your career. Networking can give you an advantage in many different areas of your life.
If walking into a room full of people feels like your worst fear, you're not alone. Many people do their best to avoid networking altogether, but this attitude can be very detrimental to your success. Networking is important but it doesn't have to be as intimidating as you think.
Why is Networking Important?
Networking is important, basically for referrals.
It is said that 31% of job seekers find listings through professional connections. Networking can open doors to new opportunities that might be out of reach.
Many people assume that networking is only useful during a job search, but the purpose of networking goes far beyond finding your next job opportunity.
Here are reasons why networking is important to your career development.
It contributes to your social well-being.
Relationships also start at professional functions and workplaces. Networking isn't just about taking, it's also about giving which makes it a fertile ground for friendship. When people know what you're interested in, they can help you find opportunities that you may have otherwise missed. Even if you aren't looking for a job, networking can bring interesting and relevant opportunities your way. You can even find your next mentor or business partner through networking.
Networking helps you meet high profile individuals.
Accessing higher-ups can be difficult in some organizations. This is where networking can introduce you to more experienced professionals. Knowing people of various professional leverage can expose you to a wide variety of opportunities. The opportunity to access their wisdom and career advice is key to your career growth. Professional networking with a co-worker who you admire can lead you to find a new mentor. It just takes a quick coffee or small take at an industry and networking events.
Networking enhances your growth in self-confidence.
Professional networking is an exercise in confidence, especially for introverts. Once you find yourself discussing your shared interests with a new friend, you'll realize that networking isn't so bad.
Networking events are actually a great place to practice your confidence even if you're an introvert. Put yourself out there and speak about what matters to you. Developing new relationships helps you foster new found confidence in your professional capabilities.
Networking makes you noticeable.
Individuals seeking publicity either for business, politics or even fame, leverage more on networking. People quickly notice others that have stronger capabilities to make them relevant. When you stand out in both your expertise and your services to offer, it creates a room for partnership which in turn builds a career. Many professionals have been able to understand how to nurture their networking strength and create more visibility for clients in their career path.
Networking has other importance like increasing your growth in status, leads to exchanging of ideas, improves your creative intellect and a lot more.
What Do I Do To Network?
You can’t just show up to a networking event and expect to magically build a strong professional network. Here are strategies to help you focus on your networking skills.
Consider what you have to offer.
Effective networking is always a two-way street. Some people avoid networking because they're not sure of what they have to offer. Before you go to a networking event, consider what you can give to someone else. It's not only about you. Networking can feel sleazy if you're only out for your own benefit.
Allow curiosity lead you.
Instead of aiming to meet as many people as possible especially by collecting a ton of business cards, make a goal to have a few deep and engaging conversations with a handful of people. Focus on shared interests and let curiosity be your guide.
Just hearing what other people are doing at their respective companies can inspire you to bring new techniques or skills to your job. So ask a lot of questions and listen attentively. Be open about your passion, goals and interests too.
Most importantly, don't forget to follow up afterwards.
Set bigger goals.
If you're looking for a job, don't go around asking everyone if they're hiring. Instead, create networking goals bigger than yourself like learning, contributing to your industry or something else completely to avoid becoming intimidated or demanding. Remember that the connections you make today can help you years later from now. Almost every new connection you make will have value now or in the future. Keep that in mind. Having a higher purpose can take the focus off you.
And if you're a timid type, you can
Bring a friend.
Taking a friend who understands your personality can be the bridge you need to make your first new professional connection. Your friend can help start a conversation and give you confidence to venture out on your own next time.
Sometimes, just showing up to a networking event can be an accomplishment. Chances are that someone will approach you and in no time, you'll find yourself networking.
I hope you find this article helpful.
What other technique have you used in networking with people?