You are here
Six ways networking can benefit your career
Active networking is vital to career growth. Often confused with selling, networking is actually about building long-term relationships and developing a solid, reliable reputation over time. It involves meeting and getting to know people who you can assist, and who can potentially help you in return. Your network includes everyone from friends and family to work colleagues and members of groups to which you belong.
With that in mind, it’s important to realise that while networking is crucial to your career, it’s also something that’s going on all the time. Good networking involves having authentic conversations with interesting people – even if you’re an introvert. Connecting with people – whether on a personal or professional level – is very useful for your career.
Here are some of the key benefits of networking:
1. Strengthens relationships
Networking is about sharing, not taking. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship. By doing this, you sow the seeds for reciprocal assistance when you need help to achieve your goals.
Humans are hardwired to reciprocate. If you help someone, you never know when they might return the favour down the line. It could be next week, it could be next year, but the more you reach out and offer assistance, the greater chance there is of someone doing the same for you. You also will make a name for yourself as someone helpful, and useful to know, which may bring you contacts you otherwise may not have met.
2. It’s a source of fresh ideas
Your network can be an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas to help you in your career. Exchanging information on challenges, experiences and goals is a key benefit of networking because it allows you to gain new insights that you may not have otherwise thought of. Similarly, offering helpful ideas to a contact is an excellent way to build your reputation as an innovative thinker.
People think in so many different ways, which is why it can be very useful to speak to someone in a different field, who may provide a completely new way of looking at a problem that you may not have considered. History is full of great problem solvers who zoomed out and considered a tough issue from a new perspective, and suddenly were able to solve it.
This is why networking shouldn’t just be confined to people who seem immediately “useful” to you, such as people higher up in the same industry. Inspiration and connection can be found anywhere, so never assume someone is not worth knowing because they do something different from you. Plus, you never know who they know, and who they might introduce you to.
3. Raises your profile
Being visible and getting noticed is a benefit of networking that’s essential to career building. Regularly attending professional and social events will help to get your face and name known. You can then help to build your reputation as knowledgeable, reliable and supportive by offering useful information or tips to people who need it.
If you network enough, you will massively increase your odds of being in the right place at the right time. A huge part of succeeding is simply showing up, so by being in the right rooms, you’ll meet the right people. The numbers are on your side here.
4. Opens new doors
Expanding your contacts can open doors to new opportunities for business, career advancement, personal growth, or simply new knowledge. Active networking helps to keep you at the forefront of people’s minds when opportunities such as job openings arise, and increases your likelihood of receiving introductions to potentially relevant people or even a referral for a new job.
Being present in people’s minds by being memorable and helpful when you do talk to them makes them more likely to think of you. If you combine this with the law of reciprocity, you can create some very powerful opportunities.
5. Facilitates exchange of information
Networking is a great opportunity to exchange best practice knowledge, learn about the business techniques of your peers and stay abreast of the latest industry developments. A wide network of informed, interconnected contacts means broader access to new and valuable information.
You never know what people know. By exposing yourself to as broad a variety of people and information as possible, you stand the best chance of absorbing the most useful data, and of being able to use that to help other people and yourself. The more you know, the greater the asset you are.
6. Widens your support network
Gaining the advice of experienced peers is an important benefit of networking. Discussing common challenges and opportunities opens the door to valuable suggestions and guidance. Offering genuine assistance to your contacts also sets a strong foundation for receiving support in return when you need it.
Making sure you have people’s backs in times of difficulty will set you apart from the crowd. Business can often be competitive, but if you build yourself a network based on trust and co-operation, you’ll stand head and shoulders above the rest, and make yourself known as someone who understands how things work, and more importantly, how people work. This is a vital area of social proof that comes from having a strong, supportive network.
Networking is one of the most valuable skills you can cultivate. It forms the backbone of any career, and is something you can always be working on and striving to improve. It can also, with the right mindset, be an enjoyable and enriching experience that not only creates huge benefits in work, but in life as well.
Thinking about a new job? Contact a Michael Page specialist today.
Networking done well will supercharge your career progression, enabling stronger relationships and exposing you to fresh ideas, not to mention extending your support network. Good networking has many advantages:
- Raises your profile
- Opens new doors
- Facilitates exchange of information
- Widens support network
- Strengthens relationships
Source of fresh ideas