Most of us recognise that networking is beneficial to our careers. Yet for some reason, we only think of its benefits when we are job hunting, but connecting with other professionals can help with every aspect of career development so don’t just reach out to other professionals in times of crisis; rather invest in these relationships throughout your career.
Take a look at these ten benefits of networking and start building that powerful Linkedin presence you’ve always talked about.
1. It Allows You to Help Others
One of the most important benefits of networking that people tend to overlook is that it allows you to help other people. Granted, our motives in the professional world are rarely altruistic, but helping someone else with their career goals can be truly rewarding. Think of helping someone get their first job for example or putting in a good word to help someone get the promotion they’ve been after for the past two years.
What’s more, helping out a professional connection means that they’ll owe you one, which essentially means that by making introductions and helping other people connect, you are basically paving the path for your professional success.
2. Exchange Fresh Ideas
Most of us try to stay up to date with changes in our fields either through continuing our education or via reading up on industry news, but there’s a wealth of knowledge out there which you can gain access to by simply talking to other professionals in your industry.
Being on the receiving end of these fresh ideas allows you to introduce new practices in your workplace and win points with your boss. What’s more, it helps you remain on top of changes in the industry which not only helps you remain employed but is also a great first step in professional growth.
3. Makes You More Visible
What many professionals fail to understand is that the fight for visibility and standing apart from competition does not end once you get the job. In fact, making yourself more visible in the workplace is not only harder, but it also requires a lot more skill.
One of the advantages of networking is that it helps you become more visible because you become that one person that knows everyone and can be asked to make introductions or provide insight on clients, associates etc.
4. Opens Doors to New Opportunities
Precisely because networking makes you more visible, it also opens new doors. From getting approached by recruiters about job opportunities, to getting noticed by people who would like to work with you on a freelance basis, you never know when an opportunity that can advance your career will present itself.
It’s important to understand that opportunities not only present themselves in the form of new jobs, but they can also mean meeting an important person in the industry that can change the course of your career, or being given the chance to start your own business.
5. Allows You to Express Opinions
Unlike your friends and family, a professional network is there to share opinions about the industry and exchange information. You can discuss industry related matters that you have been thinking about and ask for advice whenever you reach an impasse.
Having this kind of support system is one of the many advantages of networking and it’s why people are encouraged to take an active role in building their network. Not only can you share opinions about new trends with other professionals, but you can also share ideas about client projects (be careful not to overshare) and get some constructive feedback.
6. Expands Your Support Network
Another benefit is that it helps you build a support network that can assist you at every stage of your career. Let’s say that you are interviewing with a company; in an open network there will be someone who’s gone through the same process in the past which means that they can give you advice and tips on how to conduct yourself and what to expect.
The is true when you are trying to approach a new client. An open network can mean getting tips on what the client likes and what the best tactic to approach is.
7. Gets You Promoted
According to many studies, having an open network is a predictor of success and it ensures promotions and salary increases. Remember that connecting with other professionals gives you insight and makes you more visible, attributes that any boss values and looks to reward.
The key is to use your contacts wisely and to be smart about how you carry yourself in the workplace. Remember that if you’ve been contacted by a recruiter about a new position you can use the offer to leverage your current position. The chances are that your boss will learn to appreciate you more once they know that you are in demand.
8. Boosts Your Self-Esteem
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about networking benefits, but the boost to your self-esteem is something to consider. Knowing people, being asked about your opinions and ideas and getting asked to introduce people can be quite the social thrill, and it’s exactly what you need especially if you are an introvert who’s looking to advance themselves in a cut-throat business environment.
There are many methods and techniques to get over your initial shyness and actually start talking to people, but the important thing to remember is that it can be done on your own terms. Networking is not like entering a high-school cafeteria, it’s a lot more grown-up and it’s something anyone can achieve as long as they set their mind to it.
9. It Becomes Your Resource
You probably have tonnes of questions about your industry that not even Google can help you with. Talking to other professionals (and this includes colleagues) can help you resolve these questions.
Your professional network essentially functions as your resource because as the old adage goes two minds are better than one. Having these connections means that you can tap into their knowledge whenever you need to (and they feel inclined to give you access).
10. Influence Things Positively
Sometimes all our careers need is an influencer who can help things go our way and that’s what a professional network does a lot of the time. It puts in a good word and applies pressure whenever it’s necessary. It’s an aid in helping you achieve your goals, and this is precisely why taking active steps towards building and maintaining a network is essential.
A professional network can help your career in many ways including getting a job, promotion and even leveraging a raise. However, to achieve all of that you need to step outside your comfort zone and start connecting with other people in your field. Remember that you can’t just build the relationships, you need to maintain them by following and keeping up with all of your connections.