Networking is about connecting with others and building relationships. By developing connections and relationships, you strengthen your circle of influence. If you are looking to progress in your career or small business, networking is a very powerful tool that can support you with this.
Here are 8 ways in which networking can be of great benefit to your career or business success:-
1. An opportunity to learn
Networking provides a good opportunity for you to learn from others who are more experienced in your field. Engaging in conversations and finding out about other peoples’ experiences and the lessons that they have learned on their journey, can help you navigate your way through your professional development.
It also enables you to see things from different perspectives. Sometimes we have a limited view on our situation but by placing yourself in environments that take you outside your comfort zone and meeting new people, it helps you to learn and grow.
2. There are opportunities to be had
A good way to identify opportunities and openings is by word of mouth. Networking provides a fantastic platform for this to happen. The person you talk to might be able to open a door of opportunity for you. Or they may even themselves present opportunities to you.
You may find out about a job opening, a business lead or a new supplier. You may be presented with a public speaking opportunity or even have a door you thought was firmly shut, opened for you.
3. A chance to showcase your expertise
When networking, people will want to find out more about you and this is an opportunity for you to showcase your expertise, talents and experience. And who knows what this could lead to if you develop a good relationship. A potential client, a referral, a promotional opportunity, who knows…
And if you don’t like blowing your own trumpet, there are ways that you can showcase your talents and expertise in ways that don’t come across as me, me, me.
4. A source for finding support
Networking in your industry field will bring you into contact with those who have more experience and are further down the line than you. By getting to know them and developing relationships, it becomes easier to ask for mentoring support.
Many people are willing to support those who are up and coming by mentoring them whether formally or informally. Forming relationships makes this easier for you to ask for this support and increases the chances of them saying yes.
5. Inspiration and Innovation
Connecting with people who are striving for similar things as you are can be very inspiring. Sharing stories and experiences can encourage you and help you to come up with innovative ideas.
Hearing the personal stories of others who have made it in your field helps to make what you are striving for seem more real and tangible. If they can do it, so can you.
6. It can make the inaccessible accessible
Is there someone who you want to get connected with? Find out where they network and connect with them this way. People don’t often like receiving random emails or phone calls from people they don’t know.
As long as you are building a relationship and not just out for what you can get, they are more likely to be receptive if you talk to them at a networking event.
7. A chance to form lasting friendships
Networking doesn’t just have to be about your career or business development, you can also form lasting friendships with like minded people through networking.
I personally have made some great friends through networking who are also striving for similar things as I am. They have become a great source of support and I too am able to support them.
If you are the owner of a small business, it can be very isolating and forming these sorts of friendships with people who ‘get it’ can provide you with encouragement and a sounding board that you would otherwise get from colleagues or your management team if you were still in the corporate world.
8. An opportunity for you to help others
Don’t make networking be just about what you can get from it, also make it about what you can do to help others. Can you connect someone to someone who you know that will be a beneficial introduction for them? Do you know of opportunities that may be right for them?
Helping someone and not expecting anything in return can be very rewarding and if you are seen as being generous, people will remember this. They may even want to do something to help you as a result.
Know what you want to get from networking
Developing a strategy so that you are clear what you want to get from networking will help you to get maximum benefit from it, rather than it just be a case of you flitting from event to event without any gains.
When you know what you want to gain through networking it is then easier to identify the type of networking events that will help you to achieve your aim.
There are many benefits to be gained through networking. These are just a few. What opportunities or success have you had through networking or have you found it to be of no benefit? I would love to hear your experience so please share your comments below.