Whether you’re just starting your career, rising through the ranks, or achieving your highest ambitions, networking is key to your professional success. However, while many people acknowledge the benefits of networking, they’re hesitant to exercise their networking skills.
Maybe they can’t make after-hours networking events due to obligations at home, or maybe the social aspect of networking feels awkward. Networking can be especially intimidating for introverts.
To help motivate you, we’re outlining some of the top benefits of professional networking. In addition, we’ll go over a couple of networking methods you might like to try.
What is Networking?
Networking is a mutually beneficial relationship in which professionals share thoughts, insights, and information relevant to their business. It is about meeting and building connections with people who have shared professional and personal interests in a supportive atmosphere. There will be times you can advance their business and career goals and others when you turn to them for guidance or assistance.
These kinds of professional relationships are important in what author Carter Cast, quoted in Top Resume, calls “the era of do-it-yourself career development.” Carter points out that, “in today’s workforce, the burden is on you to take control of your career development. Hence the importance of networking.”
Why is Networking Important to Your Career?
Some key advantages to networking include:
1. Building Relationships
By widening your circle of professional colleagues and business associates, you build your resources. Says Inc., “you are ensuring that whenever you need a new client, a new job, or to develop your skills further, you can call upon your network to help you.”
2. Building Esteem
When you’re actively engaged with your network, you have opportunities to showcase your skills and extend your professional reputation. “Networking is perhaps more crucial than ever, as an established relationship can make you stand out against the competition,” notes Monster.
3. Developing a Knowledge Base
As your network grows, you’ll connect with people from inside your industry and related industries with the background and experience that can broaden your own professional knowledge. These are the professionals you can turn to for advice, information, ideas and support. Some may even become your professional mentors.
4. Meeting Executive Professionals
Networks are among the few places where people at all career levels mingle. A professional network can consist of anyone across your industry, from entry level staff through executives. This can get you noticed, but also enables you to pick the brains of experienced and well-placed individuals for career advice.
5. Potential Job Opportunities
When you’re ready to advance your career, you may be able to access your network for professional references, or as a source of “inside information” for unposted positions. “Thirty-one percent of job seekers find listings through professional connections, especially referrals,” notes BetterUp. “Networking can open doors to new opportunities that might be out of reach otherwise.”
Ways to Network – Even if You’re Shy
Even introverts need to network. If you’re hesitant, follow these tips:
- Start small. Go to one event and set one goal: Speak with three people. Collect five business cards. Connect with a specific person, or someone from an organization you’d like to learn more about.
- Attend a networking event with a friend – especially if they’re more outgoing. They can help start conversations and break the ice.
- Outside of work, what are you passionate about? Even if it’s unrelated to your career goals, volunteering is a great way to meet people while developing your skills, showing your value, and giving back to the community. Your volunteer network could provide valuable links to other professionals.
Networking is a developed skill. The more you do it, the better you become at making the professional connections that will carry you upward and onward in your career.
Ready to Start Networking and Connect With People in Your Industry?
If you’re ready to make your next professional move, widen your network by calling Pro Resources Staffing Services.