The Importance of Networking + 5 Tips to Do it Well
By Taylor Varco
The truth about networking is: it’s typically not at the top of your to-do list. Your calendar is already crowded with work and personal commitments, talking to strangers is the last thing you want to do. Depending on your personality, networking can also feel awkward, and to some people—incredibly draining. There’s a reason to change your perspective on networking; it can be an incredibly powerful tool in career success. Do it right and you’ll not only land jobs faster, but you’ll gain a competitive edge through every stage of your career.
The most connected people are often the most successful, in any line of work. Investing in relationships will pay you back throughout the course of your career by helping you improve your skillsets, stay on top of trends, keep a pulse on the job market, and meet potential mentors or new clients.
Exchange Fresh Ideas. We all try to stay on top of trends within our field, by reading up on news or taking courses and seminars, but there’s a wealth of knowledge and perspectives you can access simply by talking with others in your industry.
Make Yourself More Visible. Unfortunately, the battle to stand out doesn’t end once you land a new job. Making yourself more visible in the workplace with your employer requires some effort. Networking can help make you more visible as a person who has a lot of connections and able to make introductions or have insight on competition.
Open the Doors to New Opportunity. You never know what opportunity can knock and the more you open yourself up to others, the more likely different opportunities will arise. This doesn’t just mean new jobs but opportunities that can change the course of your career.
Tips for Effective Networking
- Find Your Style.
There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to networking, so find the techniques that work best for you. For some, one-on-one over coffee might be better than a larger group setting. You may have to try a few different things before you get into a groove. Once you have your ideal style, seek out those scenarios where people can help you with your developmental goals.
- Be Intentional.
You shouldn’t come to anyone with major expectations, but networking should always be done with more intention than collecting contact information. Approach it as you would any other task: set a goal for yourself and find a networking opportunity to meet that goal. It can be as simple as “I want to learn more about HR” or “I want to bring back 1 new insight to share with my team.”
- Go Outside of the Box.
Networking isn’t just for seminars and cocktail parties. Look for networking opportunities in every facet of your life. An easy place to start is joining online groups that match your professional and personal interests. Think about what you’re passionate about and start there. This could be anything from volunteering to a local chapter of your alma mater.
- Keep in Touch.
Don’t contact people only during times of need. Keep in touch with your network regularly, even if it’s just a brief email, to check-in and see how they are. People are more likely to reach out if you are top-of-mind.
- Pay it Forward.
If you come across a value opportunity to someone in your network, bring it to them before they ask for help. The more you invest in your relationships, the more you’ll learn and the more benefits you’ll reap.
It’s never too early, or too late, to invest in your network. Networking give you visibility, keeps you knowledgeable, and give you an advantage in the workplace. The best thing you can do is to put yourself out there and give it a try.