|The Importance of Networking - It’s not what you know, but who you know.
Career advisors are constantly sharing this old adage with clients as a way to encourage professional networking. Consultants aren’t the only ones hailing the benefits of building a solid network of business relationships. Ask any senior executive, politician, or community leader and they’ll tell you the same thing: professional relationships played a major role in their success. Networking truly is the most productive and proficient way to build lasting personal and business relationships.
Why networking is so important
A strong circle of professional contacts is a priceless asset to job seekers, entrepreneurs, and even established executives. This is because a solid network will benefit you both now and in the future through knowledge sharing, collaboration, and lead generation. Career advisors recommend strengthening your professional network in order to:
- establish business contacts
- increase your understanding of dynamics within your industry
- help uncover hidden career opportunities
- create mutually beneficial relationships
- accelerate your professional development
- get “plugged in” to your industry and community
Looking for a new career? Try job search networking
Some reports say that up to 80% of the jobs available in the workforce today are unadvertised. How then, should a potential job seeker go about uncovering these hidden opportunities? Through networking of course! Networking is one of the fastest ways to tap the hidden job market, so don’t be shy. Let people know that you’re looking for work. Tell your friends, family members, and neighbours. Making connections this way can often produce a ripple effect – your initial network of 10 people could quickly grow to 100+ in some circumstances.
Join a professional organization
Joining a professional organization is a great way to kick-start your job search network. This is because professional organizations often host events that are designed specifically for networking. Attending one of these events will give you the opportunity to meet new people in your field and inquire about current and future job opportunities. Remember to always exchange contact information or business cards during these types of gatherings. This way, you’ll be able to follow-up with your new acquaintances and begin building a mutually beneficial professional relationship.
Networking tips for introverts
Building a solid professional network takes time, effort, and patience. Networking can even be downright painful if you’re an introverted individual. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to ease your apprehension.
Expand your professional network online
- Bring a friend or co-worker to networking functions.
- Start discussions with an open-ended question like, “How did you like the presentation?” or “What organizations are you a member of?”
- Rehearse your personal elevator pitch. While a business focused elevator pitch consists of an overview of an idea, product, or service - a personal pitch should be a quick 30 second snippet all about you!
- Remember to be yourself. Lasting relationships are formed when you let your genuine self shine through. People want to do business with people they like and respect.
There are literally hundreds of online social networking sites designed specifically for professional purposes. LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is the most popular of these networks, and the one that is most recommended by career consultants. Being active on LinkedIn will help you connect with current and former colleagues, as well as request professional recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past. The network is also a valuable resource for researching job opportunities and learning more about organizations that you are hoping to target in your job search.