Whether you are a student, professional, or entrepreneur, networking is one of the most important things you can do to advance your career. It is an essential process that should implement throughout all stages of your professional journey.
Networking is not about connecting with as many people as possible. It is about meeting the ones who can endorse your skillsets, show you opportunities and direct you to other, well-connected people.
To highlight the importance of networking and how it can work in your favour, take a look at these 15 vital benefits of networking.
1. It gets you noticed
There are many talented professionals out there. It’s crucial that you are visible amongst the crowd and make opportunities come to you instead of the other way around. One way to do this is through networking.
When you start building relationships and foster conversations about the value you can bring to an organisation, word starts spreading. Before you know it, you become that one person who ‘knows everyone’ and people want to connect with you for all sorts of opportunities.
2. It opens doors to new opportunities
A LinkedIn study found that 80% of professionals consider networking important for their career success. One of the main reasons for this is the different opportunities that you discover through networking, which you would have otherwise never seen or thought of before.
Eve Melon, Head of People & Culture at Tidio, states that ‘There is no doubt that networking is one of the most powerful ways to advance one’s career. We’ve seen countless books written on the topic of relationship building and nurturing. In fact, the business world runs on connecting the right people with each other, and for a reason.’
For instance, networking could bring you in touch with someone who has insider information about a job that has not been advertised yet. That one meeting you have could change the course of your career.
3. It builds self-confidence
The more people you meet, the more you step outside your comfort zone and build invaluable social skills and self-confidence. You can use these skills throughout your professional life.
Chris Muktar, Founder of WikiJob, confirms that ‘By putting yourself out there, you are gaining self-confidence by interacting with people. Acquiring social skills is a must for business, and it also boosts self-confidence’.
When you start your networking journey, you may need to experiment with different strategies to make yourself sound interesting to others. This will put your self-confidence to the test. But, as you continue networking, you sharpen different facets of your skillset, and there is an overall boost to your confidence that you can utilise in different aspects of your life.
4. It provides a channel where you can gain more knowledge
One of the biggest advantages of networking is that it provides the opportunity to meet interesting people from various fields and sectors. This allows you to gain insights into the commonalities between different professions and later apply knowledge from one area to another – also known as ‘transference knowledge’.
Caitlin Proctor, CPRW and Career Expert at ZipJob, explains that ‘The primary benefit of networking is connecting with new and different people. Yes, this can potentially lead to job referrals or introductions, but it can also lead to interesting conversations, new friendships, and learning opportunities’
Treat networking as a knowledge exchange process to actively learn about industries’ latest developments, which could eventually help you in your career.
5. You can receive instant career advice and support
Receiving advice from experienced peers is an important benefit of networking, especially if your contact has already gone through a similar journey you are about to undertake. You have the opportunity to discuss common challenges and get immediate feedback and solutions for them.
That said, it’s not just about receiving advice; networking is also about offering assistance to others when they reach out to you. The more you give, the stronger the quality of your network.
6. It polishes your communication skills
Networking forces you to talk to strangers. It gives you a chance to effectively communicate your value to others and explain how and why you stand out from the crowd.
Essentially, you are practising your soft skills in real-time. The more you practice, the better you become at delivering your message with precision and clarity.
This benefit is even more important for introverts who want to advance in their career.
7. It allows you to meet interesting people
You never know who you may come across during networking events like conferences, meetups, and trade shows. It is an opportunity to meet influential people who could offer you your next job, career opportunity, or client.
Some of them may be highly successful entrepreneurs or investors who may be on the lookout for the next big idea, and you may happen to show up at the right time, talk to them and pitch your idea to turn it into a reality. The opportunity to make high-profile connections is endless.
8. It shines a light on your offerings
The CEO of MyCorporation, Deborah Sweeney, explains that ‘Networking is a fantastic opportunity for individuals, especially entrepreneurs, to get in front of other professionals that may be interested in learning about what you do and your start-up’s offerings. Making these connections can provide endless benefits for entrepreneurs.’
Building lasting professional connections with people allows you to highlight your credibility, earn others’ trust and demonstrate your professional value.
This can result in word-of-mouth marketing that leads to new opportunities, such as entrepreneurs and business owners offering their services or signing up as long-term clients.
9. You can find new mentors
When you are just starting in your career and are still new to the industry, you may need some guidance.
Networking facilitates the opportunity to find and connect with people who have experience in your field, and that could act as mentors to you.
Having people you can talk to during times of need and ask for guidance is an invaluable asset to your professional growth.
10. It helps you polish your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a short description of something delivered in a quick, understandable format. People use it to pitch an idea for a company or product or to explain a job opportunity to others.
This is relevant to networking events since most people don’t have time for 10-minute-long introductions. Usually, you get less than a minute to convey your experience, interests, and passion to others and make yourself sound interesting.
Using an effective elevator pitch can make another person want to form a lasting professional connection with you. Therefore, to make every meeting and conversation count, you need to craft a compelling elevator pitch.
11. You get to help others
Acts of service rarely go unrecognised, especially when they have a big impact on a community. Assisting someone else with their career goals can be truly rewarding.
Through networking, you can connect with people who need your expertise and knowledge and help other professionals overcome career obstacles.
This is a great way to expand and diversify your network and become more noticeable within your sector. In some cases, you may also have the opportunity to exchange services with other companies - a win-win scenario.
12. It gives you a reality check
When you are working in the same job for several years, it’s easy to lose touch with how your skillset and experience translate to the outside world.
Once you start connecting with other professionals, you can get a reality check of how other people within similar positions go on to have more successful careers. This is called upward comparison.
This psychology theory suggests that comparing yourself to people you consider to be better than you motivates you to achieve similar success.
13. It results in long-lasting professional relationships
It is not surprising that having a large network can bring you in contact with like-minded people who share similar interests, passions and goals as you.
These long-lasting contacts may be essential to your career progression and could help you climb the professional ladder.
Often, these professional relationships can last a lifetime and can even develop into friendships.
14. It helps you build your brand
Having a brand is what makes you stand out from the competition, attract clients and get noticed.
As you start networking, you start discovering different facets of your brand that connect with people. It helps you craft your story to use in your daily communication and social channels.
15. It improves your mental health
Developing good relationships can have positive effects on your mental and physical health. Indeed, Happiness Researcher and The New York Times best-selling author, Shawn Anchor, asserts that social connection is the greatest predictor of long-term happiness and the greatest long-term predictor of success.
Through networking, you can develop a sense of camaraderie, worthiness, and purpose by connecting with individuals who share the same passions as you.
However, to achieve that, you need to step outside your comfort zone and start connecting with other people in your field.
But remember, you can’t just build relationships; you need to maintain them too by regularly following up with your connections, whether it’s a quick chit-chat at the annual industry conference or drinks at the weekly (virtual) happy hour.
What are some other benefits of networking that we haven’t mentioned above? Share them with us in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 11 May 2017.