Networking is the power of building relationships for the purpose of propelling your professional life forward. Networking does not only have to be done in professional settings, there are always opportunities to network every time you are interacting with anyone in the community. Whether it is at a professional conference, going to the gym, dropping your kids off at school, there are always opportunities to meet new people that will help you in the future. Strong relationships must be built over time, so it is important to be personable and maintain positive relationships with as many people as you can over time. A positive relationship can be built with anyone no matter the position they have in an organization and every relationship is just as beneficial. A strong relationship with a manager or boss can benefit you just as much as a positive relationship with the lower level employees.
It is estimated that only 20% of employment opportunities are promoted publicly. The majority of the time, employment positions are promoted through word of mouth and network connections. For example, let’s say a boss or human resource manager of a company is looking to hire a new employee for a managerial position, they will probably begin to look internally rather than in the general public. There are many benefits to hiring employees who are already familiar with the organization. So whether you are already an employee in a company or are looking for a change, it is important to maintain healthy relationships within the organization and throughout your field of work.
There are an incredible number of benefits to networking, in addition to opening up more employment opportunities. For example, networking allows for the exchange of ideas with those in similar fields or positions. How will you ever be able to judge your knowledge or progress without being able to speak about it with others in a similar position? Try not to compare yourself to others, but use others as a learning resource, as they will do the same with you.
In addition, networking makes you stand out among others. Let’s say your company is looking to hire a position internally, if you have networked with those in your company then you will stand out among all the other potential candidates. Finally, networking helps you grow your self-confidence. Networking is not always easy, but if you become comfortable contacting others then you will become better at interviews, business meetings, or any other social aspect of your job. Don’t be afraid to get out there!
So now you know why networking can be an essential aspect of your career, but where do you begin? Networking can seem daunting and challenging, but with the right tools you can make the most effective connections. First, understand that networking is not an overnight process, it takes patience and small but effective methods to slowly move forward in your career. Second, you must consider the ways you can engage with others. The most effective way to engage with others is to see what you can offer to them. Think about your skills and already made connections and see how you can use them to benefit those around you. This is a good way to start building strong relationships with those around you. It also gives you a reason to hand out your contact information to others which can help you in the future. Finally, make sure you understand why you are wanting to network, have a goal. It is great to have a lot of people to contact, but you need to have a clear objective of what you wish to attain from all these connections. Make sure you make a conscious effort to get to know the people you are contacting on a personal level, this will change your “cold” calls into “warm” calls and really make you stand out amongst others.
Building a professional network will take time, so the sooner you get started the better! Understand that networking will not pay off automatically, but if you consistently put yourself out there then your hard work will pay off. Finally, make sure to stay organized. Keep all your contacts you are interested in contacting organized and make sure you take note of their name, where you met them, and any other important information you learned from them, this will really make you stand out from anyone else! Now you have the tools…time to get started!