Love it or hate it, networking is something that everyone must do at some point in their careers. While it may not always be at the top of your to-do list, there’s no denying the power a strong network can have over your professional success.
Networking by definition is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. From in-person events to professional organisations and even virtual career expos, when done well, networking can give you a competitive edge in this challenging market by helping you get a job faster and adding layers to your career. Here’s how:
Build, maintain and strengthen relationships
Do you have an interest in new technology or are you wondering how to upskill without going back to school? Attending networking events can help you find a mentor outside of your organisation who can assist you in your career growth through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience.
By putting your face out there (whether in person or on-screen), you can increase your visibility in your industry, build valuable relationships and have the opportunity to learn from others who have moved up the ranks. Networking also allows you to support business development in your current role by meeting prospective partners and clients, along with learning new skills to keep you at the top of your game.
Advice and support
Some people make the mistake of thinking that professional networks only come in handy when you’re looking for a job, but having access to a robust network of talented people can be a valuable resource for the work you do on a daily basis.
You can utilise your network to expand your technical knowledge by learning best practice for a new program, stay on top of the latest trends in your industry, get guidance from a senior in your field on what you need to do to excel or ask for a second opinion on a difficult project. This advice and support can help you shine in your current role by giving you the knowledge and confidence you need to lead and take on more responsibilities.
I have a spreadsheet of old managers, important colleagues and internship mentors who I make sure to reach out to at least every six months. This can be over the phone, email or even text messages. I discuss what I have learned since our last catch up and ask how business is going for them. This keeps the line of communication open for feedback and further networking.
Access to opportunities
The right employee referral can give you access to opportunities you would never have been able to reach alone. By having a solid network of contacts, you widen your chances of landing that new job; especially if you know someone internally who can help you with a referral to a specific company.
Wanting to make a career change? Your network can help you learn how transferrable your skills are and how they relate to the role you want, as well as help you find connections in the industry you are trying to break into. Your network might also reach out to you for a role that is only being advertised internally. This is a great way to get a new role as you do not need to compete with everyone that applies; you have a foot in the door!
At the end of the day, networking does not need to be daunting, regardless of whether it is virtual or face-to-face. Think of it as enhancing your interpersonal skills along with adding value to your professional life, and you will be able to take advantage of the many benefits it can bring to your career.
For more networking advice or to learn about the opportunities, we have available, reach out to me to discuss your options.