For the majority of people, networking is a key part of their job. Whether you’re just starting off in your career or are an established business owner, there’s never a point where meeting others in your industry and making connections stops being beneficial.
There are a variety of different aspects of both personal and professional life that networking brings benefits to, which is why it is such an important part of business and career growth. This article covers the key reasons why networking is important from a general perspective and when looking at career development specifically, as well as listing many of the benefits.
Perhaps the simplest reason that networking is important is that it gets you noticed.
It doesn’t matter how fantastic a job you’re doing; if nobody can see that you’re doing it then this effort will go unnoticed and unrewarded. By attending networking events and actively reaching out to other people in your industry you’ll start to be recognized and remembered, and this brings with it a wide range of personal and professional benefits.
In some industries, who you know can be just as important as what you do. Making connections and engaging with other professionals will have an effect on your status in both the company you are part of and the sector you work in, either by association or because of the work you are doing with others. This, in turn, can boost your career prospects and open up more opportunities in your current role and in future positions.
If you’re stuck getting a project off the ground, are looking for industry experience and insight to inform a new idea, or need a consultant to advise on your company’s new business offering, networking can be one of the best ways to find this help. Simply talking to people who work in similar areas to you about the work that you are doing can spark new conversations or recommendations that might be the solution you were looking for, sourcing input you may never otherwise have come across.
One of the key reasons why networking is important is that it improves the business connections you make. This can be particularly useful if you are the owner of a company and are looking to establish yourself better in the industry by speaking to other professionals in similar positions.
Whilst you may just hear of and occasionally speak to professionals in other businesses in passing, networking means that you forge real connections that are meaningful and have specific intent behind them. These kinds of connections are usually much more fruitful and valuable for everyone involved, and are much more likely to lead to further opportunities for growth or development.
One reason why networking should be taken seriously and be viewed as important is that, in many industries, it is an expected part of business. Speaking to other professionals, sharing ideas, attending events and following up on connections is an established part of the working world, and if you do not take part then it may be seen as an unwillingness to progress and succeed.
Finally, perhaps one of the biggest reasons why professional networking is important is that it can have a significant impact on the progression of your career. Many people use networking as a way to break into a new industry, get in front of potential employers and learn more about how they can advance from their current role, and without it, it can be difficult to branch out from the expected path.
As previously mentioned, a key reason why networking is important is the effect that it can have on your career progression. But there are many other ways that your professional development can be affected by networking, and if you’re looking to make an impact in your workplace and working life then it’s an essential part of this success.
The first reason is that networking is one of the best ways to find new job opportunities. If you’re thinking about a career change but aren’t finding anything through searching online, networking can be a way to find openings in companies that may not be officially advertised or hear about roles that you had missed from other professionals with more information.
Networking can also bring about new job opportunities even if you aren’t actually looking to change roles. Whether it leads to a suggestion for a position that you might not have considered otherwise, or a role is specifically opened up for you by a company that really wants you onboard, networking creates scenarios like these that traditional job hunting just doesn’t offer.
As well as sometimes leading you to consider roles that you may have overlooked without being prompted, the value of networking is also in the fact that it can open unexpected doors in your career. Speaking to other people in your industry about their experience can reveal unconventional pathways and progression that could also be available to you, and instead of taking the expected next steps it can highlight a range of alternative professional journeys.
The career advice that you get from websites or generic advisors is unlikely to be as specific and valuable as the advice you gather through networking. No matter what stage of your career you are at, speaking to others in your industry or in similar roles will provide you with first-hand accounts of what the working environment is really like, what mistakes you can avoid and how best to progress.
As well as the valuable advice you can gain through speaking to other professionals, networking in business is important because it allows you to access support from those in the industry when needed. If you already have established connections with a range of other people who work in the same area as you, if you come across a specific problem, have an idea that you need a second opinion on, or want to discuss a certain trend or development, you can access this support through the connections you have made by networking.
Finally, networking can be very important for your career because it creates opportunities to access dream jobs that may otherwise have never come up. If you’re confident in your ability to make connections and have already established yourself in your professional circles, you can approach business owners or directors and ask whether they would consider you for a role in their company, whether this role actually exists or not.
Of course, pursuing a dream job this way is a bit of a gamble. But you never know until you try, and without networking, you’d never get the chance at all.
We have already stressed the importance of networking both in a general sense and in terms of what it can do for your career. But you may also be wondering what some of the short-term and overall personal benefits there are to the process.
A lot of people find networking one of the hardest parts of professional life. Psyching yourself up to go and meet a lot of new people can be difficult, especially if you’re new to the game, and knowing what to say and how to appear approachable and capable does not come easily to everyone.
However, the more you practice networking, the more confident you will become. Being able to start conversations with strangers, talk about your strengths and get other people to take an interest in your work all massively increases your confidence in yourself, which will have a multitude of knock-on benefits in many other areas of your life.
You have to put effort into the relationships you build through networking. This might be through following up an initial meeting with emails, arranging catch-ups or check-ins, and learning about their personal and professional interests so that you can continue to bring relevant conversations to the table.
But when you do all of this, it leads to long-lasting connections which can continue to bring you benefits years after your initial meeting.
When you work in a large company, you may find that all of your co-workers have similar values, ideas and interests. If you work exclusively in a specific industry sector, you may also find this to be true.
Networking allows you to widen your professional circles and gain new perspectives by speaking to a range of different people. Not only can this be a good way for you to broaden your horizons in general, but it also can offer valuable insight from new directions on projects, business ideas and upcoming proposals.
Leading on from that point, another benefit of networking is that it can make you more creative. Speaking to a variety of people from different backgrounds and businesses will add some diversity to your experience and understanding of both industry and general topics, and this in turn will mean that you have more creative and diverse ideas.
And finally, networking experience can be incredibly valuable because of how many different things it will teach you.
Not only is it an opportunity to improve your interpersonal skills, get better at selling your talents and/or your business to others, and pick up general career advice, it’s also a brilliant way to find out more about what’s really going on in the industry you work in. If there’s a topic you’d like to find out more about, a new piece of software or program you know others have recommended, or just general insight into a specific job title, networking gives you the chance to get the answers to all of these questions and more from people who really know what they are talking about.
There are a variety of different reasons why people network, but two of the most common are either to look for a new job opportunity or to enhance their career prospects by making connections with successful professionals. Many people also just use networking as a way to get to know more people in their industry so that they have people they can talk to about trends, developments and predictions.
Networking is an important part of running a business because it helps uncover opportunities for growth and development that may not otherwise have been found. Prolific business connections are often made through networking and it can also often be a good opportunity to pitch ideas to investors or potential partners.
Although networking can be a nerve-wracking experience, and may sometimes not bring you the benefits you were hoping for, it’s still a very important part of almost every industry. Making connections, establishing yourself and your expertise and building relationships that offer support, insight and advice are all elements that will help boost your career prospects, and networking is the best way to do all of these.
If you’d like to find out more about networking and what you’ll need to excel when building a network, we offer an online ‘Personal Professional Development: Influencing, Negotiating and Networking’ course that will help to develop your skills and highlight how best to use them.