When it comes to career growth, active networking on a professional level is essential. There might be some off-putting connotations to the idea of networking. However, creating good professional working relationships is essential.
Why is networking so important?
It is essential for business leaders to master the skills involved in networking. This is the same across all industries and regardless of your level of experience. Good industry networking is the difference between having an okay career and a fantastic career.
With the right approach, networking can help you to build relationships that will be mutually beneficial with other professionals within your industry. With a solid network of professionals in place, you will be one of the first to hear about new and exciting job opportunities within your industry. You’ll also know when people with the right skills are looking for a new role and would fit nicely into your team and reap a whole host of other benefits.
Who should your professional network include?
You need to make sure that you have the right contacts in your professional network. This is something that will help you to maximise your learning opportunities and career growth. You should consider building your industry network to include the following groups of individuals:
- Former and current colleagues
- Study peers and classmates
- Friends in the industry
- Members of the appropriate industry-related associations
- Peers from other digital networks like LinkedIn
- Recruiters who are specialists in your field
The type of networking that you do may vary but could include everything from informal chats at social events to attending events that are specific to your industry. The goal of networking is to open up the lines of communications and begin to make network relationships
There are many benefits to be had from networking, and if you are not doing your networking effectively, then you could be damaging your career prospects. These benefits include:
- Strengthening your business connections within your network
- Tapping into your network when you need ideas and perspectives
- Raising your professional profile
- Helping you to grow your own personal brand
- Getting access to job opportunities
- Exchanging best practice knowledge with members of your network
- Getting support and career advice
- Boosting your confidence
- Gain a perspective that is different
- Develop long lasting relationships that can also be social as well as professional
- Get answers when you have questions
- Find your ultimate dream job
How do you start networking?
Building networks is incredibly beneficial for your career but for many individuals the work that is necessary to build up a network is not something that comes naturally. Not everyone is comfortable starting conversations with individuals that they do not know and even the idea of sitting next to a stranger at a conference can fill them with dread.
You can prepare for such eventualities by planning ahead and making sure that you have a couple of relevant points for discussion in your arsenal so that when you find yourself making small talk with new people you have something to discuss. Not all discussion points need to be about work, they are simply ways of getting conversations started.