Networking is crucial to expanding your horizons and career, says everywoman’s leadership development expert Kate Farrow.
Networking is viewed in different ways. For some, it’s exciting to meet new people and discover new perspectives. For others, the prospect of having to “schmooze” fills them with dread.
I have often heard that the whole idea of networking feels cynical – making connections for personal gain feels wrong to some people. Yet networking is such an important part of career and business development, and there are many benefits to be gained from getting to grips with this lifelong skill. Here are 10 reasons why it’s important to get out there and network in today’s business landscape.
1. Building new relationships
Networking allows you to meet new people who think the way you do or have the information you need. It helps you meet people who can offer objective advice, who understand your industry or your role, and who may use different approaches.
2. Maintaining old relationships
It keeps existing connections alive. You never know when you’ll need someone, and you don’t want to have to reach out after years of silence.
3. Creating new career opportunities
Somewhere between 60% and 80% of new roles can be found via existing networks, through a personal connection to the job you want or a reference from someone highly respected in your industry, for example. These all help when you are looking to grow your own brand and make an exciting move to the next phase of your professional life.
4. Developing your current career
Networking will help you to learn new things, meet people with whom you could build mutually beneficial relationships, and keep in touch with best practice in your industry.
5. Exploring other career options
Before changing your role or industry, you could meet people from that sector and talk to them about it. It’s useful to get some idea about the working culture before you decide.
6. Business development and sales
Of course, business development and sales are still advantages of networking – in-network referrals are the best way to grow a business.
7. Fostering new ideas and innovations
New ideas can emerge from meeting people and finding out what they are doing, what they are implementing and what challenges they are overcoming.
8. Improving communication
Having to explain what you do to strangers is good practice for perfecting your message and conversational skills.
9. Making friends
You could make new friends who understand what you are about, whether they are at a different business or within other departments of your own company.
10. Feeling helpful
It can help you add value to your network by sharing ideas and knowledge, by looking for opportunities and helping people with their careers. You can help your people feel great about what they are doing and what they are about to do.
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