Networking is the best way to get hired. Apart from that, it can help you advance your career in so many other ways. Here’s why you need to meet people.
Networking not only helps you get a job but can also have a range of other benefits for your career. Connecting with other people shouldn’t be a one-time thing, it should continue even after you get a job. Most people have associated networking with searching for a job, and while it does work, this isn’t the only way networking can help you develop professionally.
Here’s why you should always network even if you already have a job.
#1 It Helps You Discover Yourself
When talking to other people, you allow yourself to be open in terms of what you can learn and give in return. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help yourself is to pay attention to what you are talking about. If you are just starting out in your career, networking can be a method of finding out more about yourself. While you are at it, see what you enjoy talking about or discuss often. This can help you discover what you like or don’t like and realise what skills you possess or should work on.
#2 It’s Easy to Do
Have you ever watched the movie Ratatouille? The film proves that everyone can cook after a rat invades the kitchen of a famous restaurant. My point here is if a rat can cook – and if of course, you believe in fairy tales, you can become a networking master. But seriously, networking is easy to do, and even the most reserved introvert can do it. It’s just talking and getting to know people with the only difference being that you have a sense of purpose or direction in the discussion. Anyone can network, and you should make the most of every chance you get.
#3 You Create Opportunities
When you are at a party, conference or any event where many people have gathered together in one place, you need to get off the chair and get talking. Start by asking someone’s name, how they are, and what brings them to the event. When and if you get the chance, ask them what they are doing for a living. Who knows you may find that you have common interests, and as soon as you start explaining what you are doing they might say “You know what? I need you to work with me on a new start-up I am planning to build”. And there you have it. An exciting job opportunity has just landed at your feet. Could you ask for more?
#4 You Get Known Within the Industry
You don’t know who knows who in the industry until you start networking, and the benefits are many. If you want to establish yourself amongst the top performers in the field, you have to keep mingling with people and expanding your network. Your circle of contacts makes you who you are and helps you gain credibility and trustworthiness. This is important especially for people working in the health care industry. A general practitioner or a dentist, for example, can build up their client base through the word of mouth. This can help you become an expert in your field, which Debbie Allen defines in her book The Highly Paid Expert, as “an authority who has in-depth knowledge about a specific subject”.
#5 It Helps You Stay in Touch With People
Did you know that the hardest part of networking is keeping in touch with the people you have met and spoken with? Everything is new and exciting when you meet a person for the first time. You get talking, and you learn interesting things about what they are doing in their lives. But, what happens when you get to the point that there is nothing left to talk about? What happens when you no longer stay in touch?
Reminding yourself to stay in touch with these people is vital because this is the only way to create healthy and working relationships where people can back each other up. Think of this like a ‘follow-up’ and use LinkedIn to stay in touch with them while congratulating them on their new jobs and wishing them Happy Birthday.
#6 You Can Make Friends
It’s important to know that there is a fine line between becoming friends and retaining professionalism as far as it concerns networking. The purpose behind your connection with someone defines the kind of relationship you want to have with them. Approaching other people with the intent to get to know them better and become friends is more sincere than trying to get information or impress them. Real connections last longer than strictly professional ones, and you are likely to get more value out of the friendship.
#7 You Get to Learn
What’s great about networking is that you get to learn and share useful information with other people. No matter where you are in your career, you need people in your professional network who can guide you and help you develop. The exchange of information and advice, sharing of experiences and the lessons you learn through the practice of the profession can help others in their career journey and vice versa. Networking can help you build on your existing knowledge, or even develop an interest in a specialised area you didn’t even know existed.
#8 It Helps You Stay Relevant
Networking helps you stay on top of things since you get to learn what’s going on in the industry and what other like-minded professionals are doing. Staying relevant in your field is crucial to success because it helps you make sure that you are doing a job that corresponds with other peoples’ needs and are complying with current industry standards and trends. This helps you learn from your mistakes and improve your work.
#9 You Can Get Inspired
Have you ever met a person who talked passionately about a subject or a project he was involved in? What did you think about the person? This has happened to me, and my initial reaction was ‘I want to be that person’. I thought that it would be great to have something to believe in, to make it my ultimate career goal and succeed in it. With networking, you get the chance to meet fascinating people who can influence you positively. These people can spark your interest and motivate you to take action.
#10 You Have Nothing to Lose
If you were asking me why bother with networking, I would ask you why not? You have nothing to lose. There is so much that you can achieve when you meet new people and keep in touch with them. You can make friends, share experiences and learn something in return.
Networking is all about building relationships with people which can be mutually beneficial. So, don’t forget to work on your network and make the most of what you can in every encounter. You never know what kind of career opportunity is waiting for you around the corner!
How are your networking skills? Let me know in the comments section below…