The Importance of Networking

by frank-stuart

While it might not be crucial in every field, the importance of networking should never be underestimated. Effective networking entails building up contacts amongst colleagues and associates, and it can be a boost for your career. Here is an introduction, and our top tips for networking success.

So what is networking?

Essentially, networking is making connections with colleagues, clients and others in your field. There is a perception that networking is shallow and superficial, but actually, it’s about building quality relationships. It isn’t just going out of your way to meet the ‘right’ people, rather it is creating and sustaining relationships with a group of people that you know and trust, that you will help if asked, and who will help you.

Why networking is important

A network of close colleagues and associates is essentially a support group. Having people to ask advice of, seek assistance from, or exchange information with, can lay a vital groundwork for your career. An effective network might help you do your everyday job well, manage projects effectively and even climb the corporate ladder. Many positions are not advertised to the general public, but are filled by those who have heard of the vacancy through word-of-mouth.

How to get it right

Effective networking is not about rushing in, but about taking it one step at a time. Look at who you know well already – work colleagues, business associates and even old school chums. Consider who might help you with a business need if called upon. That’s the start of your network.

To build a network, use occasions that are presented to you – work functions, seminars, conferences and other events, and remember that it does take some effort on your part. Prepare beforehand so you know who will be attending, and who you might like to speak to. All relationships start with simple conversation. Make a point to try and chat with three new people at any event.

If you are shy or reserved, start by aiming to speak to just one person at each event. If it goes well, you can always ask them who else they know at the event, and ask for an introduction. Exchange business cards, and if appropriate, follow up any meetings or introductions with an email.

Technology tools

Social media sites like LinkedIn that are specifically designed for business can be a great networking opportunity. Start by taking a good look at the site and search for those in your field. Sign up and set up your profile, remembering that business colleagues, management and prospective employees can view it. On LinkedIn you can invite others to your network (always personalise invitations), follow companies so you’re in the know with the newest information and happenings, and join groups specific to your industry. These can all be valuable ways to build a quality career network.

A final word

Remember that in the end, it’s not about quantity, but about quality. A smaller group of quality relationships is going to be that much more effective than a very large group of contacts that you hardly know.

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