How Professional Networking Can Help
When many people think about networking, they envision uncomfortable (maybe even fake) conversations with strangers who hopefully will lead you to your dream job or client. But networking doesn’t have to be that way. When done in the right frame of mind, networking can be an opportunity to meet amazing new friends and colleagues. It’s a great way to learn from top mentors in your field and help others as well. Networking can help open doors in front of you that you never expected.
It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and get connected to others in your field and beyond. Kalika Yap, Founder & CEO of Citrus Studios and Entrepreneur Organization’s Los Angeles Chapter President, explains, “Social capital helps you get connected. We are only a few steps away from meeting the right person to help our business. It’s important to get to know your community on a deeper level by meeting them for coffee, lunch, dinner, or even a walk. Ask about their families, remember their names, learn about their hobbies and interests. Building these types of relationships will also help you connect them to your network. I’m always looking for ways that my friends and colleagues can flourish.”
Professional networking can help you succeed in so many ways. Perhaps you will get a new job or advance in your current position. Further, you can learn from mentors, expand your knowledge, and build a positive social network of like-minded individuals.
If you are looking for a new job, then professional networking is a must. According to LinkedIn, 70 percent of people in 2016 were hired by a company where they had a connection. By letting people in your network know about your future job interest, they can point you in the right direction. They can provide leads that can work to your advantage. Chris Garret is an online business consultant, teacher, and coach. He states that “If two people are equally qualified then it goes to who you know, like, and trust.”
Ask your contacts for names of people and companies who may be looking to fill a position that fits within your goals. Get creative and talk it up everywhere you go. You never know when your hairdresser or gym buddy has a connection. Be patient, though. Opportunities do not always present themselves right away. It may take a few layers of working through your network over several months to get to the right lead that can change the course of your career.
Advance In Your Current Position
Professional networking can help you grow in your current role and earn you that promotion you have been eyeing. When you head to a conference or other event, you can find new ideas, clients, and people with whom to collaborate. By networking, you make yourself and your company more visible. You will be able to identify new opportunities and ideas to bring back to your supervisor. In fact, according to many studies, having a solid network is a predictor of success and helps people earn promotions and salary increases.
One secret to success is having a mentor to guide you to the next level. Professional networking provides endless opportunities to meet the gurus in your field, whether you approach them after their keynote address or just happen to end up in a conversation with them. Mentors can advise you and keep you on track to meet your goals. Don’t be afraid to approach people who are in positions that you hope to be in one day. Ask them how they got there and what advice they can share with you. Ask them to take a look at your resume or other materials for feedback.
Expand Your Knowledge and Perspective
Putting yourself in new situations also allows you to learn and gain a new outlook. There is a wealth of knowledge out there that you can gain access to by simply talking to other professionals in your industry. Trainings and presentations are wonderful ways for you to learn new information, and interact and share knowledge and ideas with colleagues.
Build a Supportive Social Community
Finally, professional networking can help you meet friends in your industry who can be your support group, both professionally and socially. We all need people to open up to, let loose with, and who will have our backs. Having friends who understand your business, yet without strings attached or a competitive nature, can help you get through challenging times and let you have fun when you need a well-deserved break. You can help motivate, guide, and support each other in both professional and personal matters that arise. Unlike your friends and family, a professional network is there to share opinions about the industry and exchange information. Kim Parascos is CEO of iVolve Pty Ltd and an Entrepreneur Organization-Brisbane member. She asserts that she’s developed “a circle of amazing businesswomen that I meet with on a semi-regular basis. There’s very little that I have to deal with that one of them hasn’t seen before. Their pragmatism and honesty never fail to help.”