“Our paychecks, our moods, the health of our hearts and the size of our bellies – all of these things are determined by who we choose to interact with and how”Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
Professional networking is often feared and misunderstood. It can be awkward, time-consuming and – if you’re an introvert – incredibly exhausting. When you are already booked and busy with work engagements and family commitments, the last thing you want to do is have awkward contrived conversations with strangers.
However, despite how unpleasant networking is, building and nurturing meaningful relationships is vital to career growth. According to experts, the most connected people are often the most successful. Here are some of the reasons why professional networking is important to your careers success
Raise your profile
People do business with people they know and like. You might be very good at what you do but if nobody knows you, they will not seek out your expertise. Regularly attending professional and social events will help you get noticed and known. If you stay top-of-mind within your networks, you will be the first person they contact if they see or hear an opportunity that matches your expertise.
Get Career Advice & Support
Professional networking will help you rub shoulders with top-notch experienced professionals in your field. Based on their experience, these industry peers can provide valuable advice and guidance to some of the challenges you might be facing. They can also serve as your career mentors or link you to the right opportunities and resources in order to foster your career development.
Networking pushes you out of your comfort zone and helps you gain invaluable communication and social skills which play a key role in boosting your self-confidence. The more you put yourself out there and network, the more confident you’ll become about making new lasting connections.
Gain Fresh Perspectives and Ideas
Ronald Burt once said that “instead of better glasses, your network gives you better eyes.” Your network can be an excellent source of new ideas and fresh perspectives. By talking to other professionals in your field, you can gain new knowledge that could help you make an informed decision, overcome a challenge or take a new direction. Giving useful ideas in return is an excellent way to build your reputation as a creative thinker.
Develop long lasting personal relationships
Networking is not about putting on a fake smile, slapping someone’s back and slipping an unwanted business card into a stranger’s palm. Professional networking involves building mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships that lead to one-on-one meaningful, lasting friendships and partnerships.
Get Access to job opportunities
A single person, even someone you barely know, can change the trajectory of your career or life. You never know who might be hiring for your ideal job, or know someone who is, and the more people you have in your network, the likelier you are to be the first to know when those job opportunities pop up. Keep in mind that at least 70% of jobs are not advertised. Expanding your network can help you gain access to this hidden job market.
They say “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Having a professional network of people to help guide, steer, cheer and challenge will give you a headway in your career. So don’t go it alone, have the courage to dress up, show up and make new connections!