Career networking isn’t at the top of everyone’s to-do list. But it should be. While networking can be time-consuming and, for some, awkward and draining, the power a strong professional and personal network can have on your success cannot be overstated. Investing your time in developing long-term relationships can help you land jobs faster, can give you a competitive edge throughout your career and can improve your skills throughout the course of your career development.
Networking is about establishing, building upon and nurturing long-term relationships. Networking gives you the opportunity to find out what is happening in your community, make meaningful connections, ask for introductions and let people know more about yourself, business and expertise.
Professionals agree that the most connected people are often the most successful. In fact, according to a report by LinkedIn in 2016, 70 percent of people were hired by a company where they had a connection.
While career development is influenced by a number of factors, including formal and informal educational training, the jobs you hold and your personal and professional experiences, networking gives you the unique opportunity to take control of your development.
As you network with individuals in your company, industry and outside your field, you will find and uncover opportunities that are endless.
Here are some tips on how to become an effective networker:
Think outside the box – networking can be with past or present co-workers, supervisors or colleagues, clients and customers, alumni and acquaintances in your personal life. However, it can also include individuals from your gym, church, a community event or a volunteer organization.
Keep in touch – keeping in regular contact, even if it is just a brief email to say hello, is an important piece of building and maintaining relationships.
Pay it forward – Networking is not a one-way street. Providing help and opportunities to others in your network not only deepens your relationship but it makes it more likely they will help you!
It is never too late to invest in your network. The best way to improve your skills and expand your opportunities, both professionally and personally, is to get out there and try!