- August 24, 2022
- Posted by: shadow-management-wpadmn
- Category: Tips
“Networking? Ugh.” You’re not alone if that’s the first thought that pops up each time you hear that word. In fact, you’re hardly to blame! For many, networking has become a cheap, corporate-y buzzword used to lure crowds of unsuspecting professionals into overpriced conferences. But when done right, networking can feel refreshing and catapult your personal and professional journey.
Today’s post is about why and how to career network if you want to achieve your goals and help others do the same. If you’re not entirely sold on networking and want to understand the benefits (plus pick up some tips for making it feel genuine and effortless ), keep reading!
What is Career Networking?
It’s a sunny yet cool Saturday morning.
You’re at your bank finishing an appointment with your new account manager when, somehow, the conversation steers towards how he changed careers to specialize in banking. After listening with fascination, you mention a big, scary career pivot you’re contemplating: accounting to marketing. Your account manager looks at you with surprise and shares an exciting coincidence: a close friend recently made the same switch!
When you leave your appointment that morning, you walk away with all your banking questions answered and something you didn’t expect: the contact information of your account manager’s friend. Your account manager assures you that this friend is a fantastic mentor who would be happy to provide you with some guidance along your career change journey.
If that sounds like a super specific story, that’s because it happened to one of my resume clients. And it’s a prime example of networking: connecting with others, exchanging information and developing mutually beneficial relationships.
Stories like this are common. According to LinkedIn’s global 2017 survey, 80% of professionals consider networking essential to their career success.
What are the Benefits of Career Networking?
The obvious benefit of career networking is faster professional progress, but there are several reasons for this that people tend to overlook:
Tapping Into the “Hidden Job Market”
You may have heard variations of this statistic: 70% of jobs are never advertised and are filled through pre-existing connections instead. Now, there are a couple of things to note:
- This statistic became popular more than a decade ago, so the research that went into it is definitely outdated; and
- Other “debunking” sources of information have since surfaced, claiming that the hidden job market is not nearly that vast.
But, regardless of size, the hidden job market certainly exists. In 2019, nearly 50% of Jobvite’s survey respondents claimed to hear about jobs through word of mount, and 37% said they discovered opportunities through their professional networks.
Networking can give you access to amazing, life-changing opportunities you would never have come across otherwise.
Building Trust and Rapport
People prefer to hire and work with people they know, like and trust.
First, it’s just human nature.
But more importantly, every hire is a gamble. Onboarding the wrong candidate is a costly mistake organizations want to avoid. It’s also incredibly challenging to put up job ads and comb through a sea of unknown applicants to find the right fit for a position.
Networking increases your chances of getting your name out there and becoming top of mind for hiring managers who want to fill positions with quality, trustworthy talent as fast as possible.
Developing Your Soft Skills and Knowledge Bank
Lastly, networking is an opportunity to practice communication, creativity and other soft skills. The more you practice, the more these skills will become natural and readily available during interviews. Plus, as you venture from your bubble and interact with others, you will learn from people with various backgrounds. Over time, you will naturally become a much more rounded professional.
This list is not exhaustive by any means!
5 Quick Tips: How to Build Your Career Network
Hopefully, you now understand what career networking is and why it’s important. Now let’s go over some tips to help you get started:
Start Building Relationships Now
Ever heard the quote, “The best time to invest was yesterday. The second best time is today?”
That also applies to networking. Many people make the mistake of networking only when they need to find an opportunity, but it’s tough to connect meaningfully with others under desperate circumstances.
Make up your mind to build your network long before you need it.
Look for Networking Opportunities Everywhere
And I mean, everywhere.
Relationship building can happen at more than just career networking events: in coffee shops, online, or at bus stops. The goal isn’t to try and hand out as many business cards as humanly possible; it’s simply to meet new people and nurture genuine relationships.
You do that the same way you make new personal relationships: Look for opportunities to start conversations with new people. Develop curiosity about others. Ask questions. Share your work.
Also, don’t focus exclusively on getting to know people with “important” titles. You’ll miss out on many other professionals who could add fantastic value to your network!
Find a Networking Platform that Suits YOU
The great thing about career networking sites is that you don’t have to feel deceptive or try and guess other people’s motives. Everyone on the platform is there to develop professional relationships, find opportunities or share them.
However, finding a platform that suits YOU is essential so that you’re more likely to stay consistent. Creating a LinkedIn profile is one way to go, but LinkedIn often has a very corporate feel that may be uncomfortable for some. The good news is there are other free community-centred alternatives like Meetup and Facebook. Get creative and look for other options!
Give Before You Take
nother networking mistake people make: asking for what they want right off the bat. If you’ve ever accepted a LinkedIn request and had someone pitch-slap you, you know how icky that feels. So don’t be that person!
The Law of Reciprocity states that when we do something nice for someone, they feel compelled to return the favour at some point. Lead with value, and you will build a network of people willing to help you when you need it. Here are some ideas:
- Offer your expertise
- Share good advice when asked
- Share resources you find helpful
- Help others connect
Just to name a few!
We’re all guilty of meeting someone new, promising to stay in touch, and never reaching out again. Sadly, this has been the death of many potentially valuable friendships! The same is true of professional connections. When you connect with other professionals, follow through by sending a follow-up email and regularly checking in to see how things are going. A small gesture like that costs nothing and can go a long way.
If this article has inspired you to start or more effectively leverage career networking, shoot me a DM on LinkedIn to let me know how it’s going and how I can help!