Updated November 4, 2021
Building your career requires time, effort and — most importantly — the ability to develop relationships and connections that can help you discover better opportunities for advancement.
When you surround yourself with people who share similar ambitions and drive, it's possible to establish and nurture mutually beneficial, long-term relationships. These associates, acquaintances, friends, family, and business connections are a vital source of information, mentorship, advocacy, and insight that keep you going and can advance your career.
The concept of networking may be one that makes introverts shudder, but it’s a crucial career art to embrace and practice — and it’s not as scary as it sounds! The purpose of networking isn’t to simply make small talk, but to develop mutually beneficial relationships. Whether you’re facing a difficult challenge you’ve never encountered before, looking for a new job, or seeking vendor recommendations, having a network you can go to and depend on for help is incredibly valuable.
The relationships you form through networking are a two-way street. There are times when you will be the one in need of help, and others when you’ll be a lifesaver to someone else in need. Networking helps you build those bonds, share resources, exchange experiences, and help one another. There’s no need to fear networking — all you need is a mindset shift.
With remote work here to stay, it can be difficult to form some of these connections naturally. Getting noticed and being visible is significantly harder than usual — but not impossible. Fostering relationships with your peers, colleagues or friends is imperative to growing your network, and it doesn’t stop there.
It is especially vital for individuals to seek out networking opportunities at this time because 85% of job positions are filled via networking. With the COVID-19 pandemic creating an even more competitive job market, every relationship matters.
As more and more organizations turn to virtual conferences, rapid-fire mentoring programs and online chat rooms, the ability to grow your network from anywhere in the world has increased the ease at which you can foster relationships. No longer is time and location a large factor in the connections you can make, and by attending these events you can quickly grow a network of people with similar backgrounds or careers that can help you down the road.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This concept applies to our lives in so many ways, especially careerwise. If you try to do everything alone, you’ll only get so far. Networking is important to your success because it gives you insights, skills, and connections that will elevate you in ways you can’t on your own.
These are some of the most important powerful benefits of networking:
One of the main benefits and purposes of networking is that it helps you look at situations and problems from different perspectives that you wouldn't have thought otherwise. By talking to experts and other people in a similar field, you can gain insights and ask for opinions in a different light that can help you overcome roadblocks.
Whether you’re discussing your perception about a topic or receiving feedback, networking is an excellent way to share ideas and gain new-found knowledge to broaden your horizon. There will likely be someone who has been in the same position as you are today. They can better mentor and help you by providing you proper advice and resources for success so you can learn from them and avoid common mistakes.
Networking serves as an excellent avenue for career advancement opportunities. When people start to notice you, it naturally drives newer options for you. Engaging with other career and business-minded individuals can act as a stepping stone towards your next career, or introduce you to people who are more influential in your current field.
According to LinkedIn, eighty-percent of professionals consider networking an important part of career success. Utilizing your network to gain mentors or advocates will help you to earn valuable guidance and insight into common challenges, big decisions and it will ultimately boost your career.
At its core, the purpose of networking is to build and nurture mutual professional relationships that can and will last for a lengthy piece of time. However, it is imperative to have the right channel for networking to develop yourself personally as well as professionally.
For example, when working remotely, it is challenging to find networking opportunities that would otherwise be readily available in the workplace. That’s where your long-term relationships come in to help. It might take time and effort to develop and sustain a lasting relationship with your contacts, but putting in the necessary work to dynamically seek out potential opportunities and make the most of your connections is vital.
Networking is designed for sharing and forming relationships to help one another to reach goals. As a result, when you frequently engage with your contacts it enables you to nurture and strengthen your overall business connections which then impacts your own success.
Besides, networking with mentors in similar industries can also help you hone your own business skills. They can introduce you to new strategies and methods to develop a viable business community and a better reputation in the industry at large. You can rely on them to teach you from experience, boost your morale and create positive energy that can propel your success in the long term.
With virtual events offering unlimited opportunities to connect, the time to start focusing on your network is now. Making the most of your networking connections will help you to utilize their relationships and expertise on a larger scale, which can be a game-changer for your business.
Take some time to chat with a professional you’ve never met before at your next training session, webinar or virtual conference and see if you can foster a relationship. Having these connections can provide you a greater chance to get yourself noticed and increase your likelihood of gaining other opportunities. And —who knows— maybe next time there is a global catastrophe, your network can save your career.
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