Professional networking is a crucial component of excelling in nearly any industry and job role. No matter which stage you’re at in your career, you need to establish meaningful connections with other professionals in order to grow.
The Importance of Networking
Working hard and applying yourself is a must, but knowing the right people can help direct you where you need to go. Professional networking can present you with strategic advantages. It’s an important part of developing your career, as connecting with others in your field exposes you to unique opportunities you may not otherwise be aware of.
Networking with others can make it easier for you to find and select candidates for an open position at your company, make you aware of new opportunities in your industry, provide you with the professional advice you can use to advance, or make you aware of worthwhile avenues to look into if you’re seeking new clients.
While you don’t have to spend all your free time engaged in professional networking, this process is worth pursuing for professionals who want to excel in their careers.
You may be willing and ready to build a professional network, but if you’re not sure whom you should network with, you might be hesitant to start.
Everyone’s professional network is different, but if you’re looking for people to connect with to get started, consider the following:
- Former college classmates
- Members of professional organizations
- Past college professors
- Family members in similar positions
- Managers from past and current jobs
- Training professionals
But what if networking doesn’t come naturally to you? If you know whom you want to network with (even if you’ve only determined the basics), you might be wondering how to effectively form a professional network.
To get started building a professional network that will help you achieve your goals, try these tips:
Find people who share common interests.
- Breaking the ice by connecting over a shared interest can be a great way to initiate a networking session. Find something that you and other professionals have in common, such as a shared goal, an experience you’ve both had, or even something personal, like being dog owners. Using a common interest as the foundation for your professional relationship with another person can make the networking process feel a little more natural and friendly.
Connect with the right people.
- Keep your goals in mind when you’re attempting to build a powerful network. You want to develop professional relationships with people who can help you get from Point A to Point B. For example, if you want to work in a specific industry, networking with someone who works in that industry would be helpful.
Find ways to give back.
- Effective networks are built on giving and receiving. Most people won’t want to develop a professional relationship with someone whom they feel is using them, so it’s important to try giving as much as you receive. If someone in your network helps you in a profound way, do what you can to repay the favor.
Always be willing to learn.
- Networking is about learning new things, whether those things are skills or opportunities to explore. Remain open, alert, and receptive during networking activities so that you can learn as much as possible. There will be people in your network who will have more knowledge on specific topics than you do, and it’s in your best interest to absorb as much information as you can.
Keep the right level of contact.
- Maintaining a professional network requires cultivation, but the right amount of it. Don’t bombard the members of your network with constant contact for no real reason but stay in touch. Reach out organically and genuinely to check-in. Invite people in your network to an event or to have coffee. Connect with them when you’ve discovered information that may be useful to them.
Professional networking can provide you with advantages that aren’t possible through just your own merit. Being a dedicated worker is only one element of growing in your career. Having connections with the right people is equally as important.