Whether you’re looking for a new job or ways to climb the corporate ladder, it’s difficult to do it alone. Even the most successful professionals in the world rely on networks and interpersonal relationships to achieve career goals. Although people often associate networking for business with asking for favors, it’s not solely about them. Successful networking is about establishing trusting and long-lasting relationships with others.
Read on to see what is networking, what it entails and its relevance in modern workplaces.
What Is Networking?
In its most basic form, networking refers to exchanging information and ideas with people having common interests (professional or otherwise). Professional networking helps in establishing and developing long-term, mutually beneficial connections with people you meet in different places. There are several advantages of networking at work—expanding your professional circles, exploring new career opportunities and greater awareness about industry trends. To create and maintain beneficial connections, you need to intentionally seek out opportunities.
There are three types of networks that can help you accelerate your professional development:
The purpose of this type of network is to increase efficiency in your workplace. You build strong working relationships with internal stakeholders such as coworkers and peers for smoother operations and enhanced cooperation. Identify the individuals who depend on you and the individuals you can count upon—this helps you cement those relationships.
One of the secrets to successful career networking is meeting and connecting with people in the industry. You need to make your presence visible by engaging in activities. For example, associating with a charitable organization not only creates a good impression but also broadens your network. The more connections you make and the more meaningful they are, the easier it is to ask for referrals.
Here, the networking is both internal and external, that is, within and beyond your office. You establish contacts primarily because of future priorities and opportunities. For example, finding a mentor who will guide and support you in your career growth. An leveraging network will help you gauge what’s right and necessary to move forward in your career.
It’s important to remember that professional networking is a two-way street. The more you invest in them, the more you’re likely to benefit from them.
Why Is Networking Important?
Networking helps you access opportunities you may not be able to find on your own. Your connections can not only help provide insights across industries but also give you the necessary guidance to improve professionally. Here are several factors that emphasize the need and importance of networking in one’s life:
Helps Exchange Ideas
To a great extent, career success depends on the pool of information or ideas you have formed over the past. When you establish connections with like-minded individuals, it creates an avenue to share and exchange thoughts, ideas and viewpoints. You can even incorporate some of the ideas you receive into your daily life.
Enhances Creative Intellect
When we surround ourselves with people from the same industry or professional background, it’s easier to talk about common interests, topics and fields of work. This further helps us look at things from a fresh perspective and think outside the box. For example, a single interaction can help you think about new ways to market your product. Therefore, even the simplest interaction can result in a breakthrough.
Makes You Noticeable
Strengthening your networking skills creates more visibility for you among internal and external stakeholders. When you have strong communication skills and are able to establish and maintain powerful interpersonal relationships, people are bound to take notice. By leveraging this type of visibility, you can continue to expand your networks.
Helps Access New Opportunities
When people start taking notice of you because of your strong networking abilities, it opens new doors for career opportunities. People who network over time are able to seek out new opportunities with minimal effort. For example, meeting an important client and establishing a strong connection with them creates an avenue for future possibilities. You can always join their organization and work for them.
Career networking requires strong communication and interpersonal skills. The more your practice, the easier it gets to establish trustworthy connections. This further boosts confidence and self-esteem as you interact with individuals having overlapping interests and goals. It’s safe to say that the more successfully you network, the more self-confident you become over time.
In addition to these advantages, you create trustworthy and long-lasting relationships with people. You may end up establishing friendships in many of these relationships.
Networking For Business Events
Networking for business encompasses a range of activities, including meeting business owners, potential suppliers and other professionals who have business expertise—instrumental to growing your business. One of the best ways to meet, interact and engage with people is through networking events. Here are different types of networking for business events, where you can create or expand your connections:
You can gain meaningful insights when business seminars are tailored to your industry or line of work. Several seminars allow the opportunity for individuals to interact freely before an event starts. Typically, an industry expert speaks on a particular topic and sometimes questions are entertained towards the end. Since the pandemic, webinars have become more commonplace.
Professionals often attend workshops as part of their training and development requirements. However, workshops can be an effective way to connect with like-minded people. It provides the opportunity to learn and exchange ideas. You’re likely to meet people from different organizations and walks of life.
When a small group of individuals gathers to discuss or debate a particular topic, it refers to a roundtable discussion. Engagement from multiple people means learning from diverse perspectives. The primary goal of such discussions is to facilitate respectful and meaningful conversations.
Businesses often organize conferences where various types of guests—stakeholders, investors and clients—are invited. Seminars and keynote speeches are primary elements of business conferences. Informative presentations allow the audience to learn, interact and engage in meaningful discussions. This further allows professionals within the same industry to come together and connect with one another.
One of the easiest ways to connect with like-minded people and expand your networks is through virtual groups. Business networking groups serve the purpose of exchanging information, ideas and support. There are several channels through which you can become a part of such groups—Slack, email newsletters and LinkedIn. Oftentimes, these groups organize virtual meetups as well.
The bottom line is that making connections is an important stepping stone for your career growth.
Networking At Work: Master The Art
While different networking events provide excellent opportunities for you to meet and connect with people, knowing how to approach them is equally important. Here are some best practices that can help you network successfully:
Look For The Right People
If you’re seeking opportunities in a particular field, it’s best to reach out to people who can provide you with the specific support you need. For example, you want to shift to another industry, try to make connections with people in that field. However, your connections don’t always have to be strategic. Even genuine connections can surprise you with interesting opportunities. It’s a good rule of thumb to establish connections with people from multiple fields.
Stay In Touch
If you message or email someone out of the blues only because you expect something in return, it doesn’t reflect well. Fostering your networks year-round is important for maintaining beneficial relationships. It can be as simple as sending a hello or a how are you to their inbox. This will minimize the awkwardness and will make it easier for your connections to help you out.
Utilize Your Resources
Rapid digitization and technology have made it easier to maintain professional networks. In addition to formal networking groups, you can add your connections on various social media platforms. This will not only help you reach out faster but also provide information about your networks. For example, discussing the research paper someone you want to connect with has written. This helps break the ice and impresses the person with your attention to detail.
For a flourishing career, you need a robust professional network. In addition to these effective strategies, Harappa’s Expanding Networks course will teach you how to build authentic, diverse and mutually beneficial professional relationships to achieve new heights in your career. The Types of Networks and Key Networkers frameworks will help navigate the different networks and networkers in every individual’s life. Don’t just build networks, sustain and nurture them with Harappa!
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