Humans are social creatures. We tend to enjoy making connections and meeting new people, which is what sets us up nicely for networking.
Networking is taking those natural inclinations to meet other people and putting them in a more professional setting.
Networking is great, because you never know how you can help your connections in the future, as well as how they may help you. It gives you a sense for what’s possible in your professional field and beyond, giving you a more well-rounded perspective of your area or industry.
That’s why today’s blog post is all about networking. I’ll get into the importance of networking as a professional individual, as well as some of the ways that you can get started. Plus, I’ll offer some tips for nurturing your connections as time goes on.
Why Does Networking Matter?
Besides being good for your health, networking is an important step for advancing your career and potentially giving you an edge over other candidates when applying for jobs.
You’ll learn more about potential opportunities and be able to draw from the experiences of others.
Here are a few other reasons why networking is so important:
If you’re just getting started in your career or have recently made a career switch, it’s very common to feel unsure about what your next steps should be or if you’re on the right track.
By networking, you can hear from others about their own path and what they might recommend for your unique situation. This, in turn, will help build your confidence and can make you feel more secure in your decisions.
You never know when a potential connection will help you in the long-run, but one of the best ways is when it leads to a new job or client.
By talking to others and letting them know your specialties, you can ensure that they’ll think of you or your business when they need a position filled or a job done.
You’ll have already gone through the introduction stage, so you can focus more on being genuine rather than having to sell yourself. This gives you an immediate edge over any potential competition.
A lot of networking events and organizations are centered around a geographic location or other kind of community.
By getting involved with networking, you can find unique ways to help this community and support its long-term growth.
Creating a Support Network
As you go through your professional career, chances are, you’ll have a lot of questions and concerns pop up. The contacts you make through networking, though, can be an excellent resource for answering these questions.
Because of networking, you don’t have to go through the uncertainties that come along with working life on your own. You’ll have a group of people to tap into when you need them.
Networking: Getting Started
There are no right or wrong ways to get started in networking. The most important thing is to get started in the first place.
You might find immediately that you can rely on people that you already know. What types of people can your best friends introduce you to? Who are some of your former classmates working with now?
You can take these small steps to grow your network over time. Plus, since your networking is starting from a more genuine, natural place, you may find more meaningful connections overall.
The most important thing is to talk to people. This could be scheduling an informational interview with someone whose field you’re interested in and it can be commenting on someone’s LinkedIn update. Building relationships starts with open and honest conversations, so try to be the one to initiate as much as you’re able.
How Not to Network
There are, however, a few things that you’ll want to avoid as you begin your networking journey. Here are a few things that I would recommend avoiding as you get started:
- Going in for hard sales. Networking is all about getting to know people. Coming off too strong or too salesy will hurt your credibility.
- Not following up with people. Starting a conversation is a great first step, but you have to follow up with the person if you want to keep that conversation going and ultimately build a relationship.
- Dominating the conversation. Again, you want to build a genuine relationship. If you spend most of your time networking only talking about yourself, people won’t want to talk to you. Ask questions and be curious about other people’s careers and goals.
Since one of the major reasons for networking in the first place is to create connections, it’s important to foster the connections you make while networking over time.
Be willing to reach out to individuals and groups at least once every few months. Ask them about what they’re doing and how work is going. Give them an update about a piece of advice they recommended to you and how you’ve implemented it in your life. Share a book or an article on a topic that they might find useful.
Make sure that as you’re continuously getting in touch with people, you’re also adding value to your relationship. Yes, people network in order to meet other people, but they also network in order to find mutually beneficial relationships.
Finding Your Net Worth Through Networking
Networking can seem daunting at first, but it is truly one of the most valuable things you can do to further your career. You never know where your connections may lead you as the years go by.As someone who’s done plenty of networking throughout my career, I have plenty of insight that could help anyone just getting started or has questions about doing so. If you’re interested in learning more about being an effective networker, get in touch with me to schedule a meeting.