Indian female white collar worker in wheelchair discussion in office lounge with colleague

Active professional networking is vital to career growth. Many shudder when they hear the term networking, associating it with awkwardness, cheesy events and the idea of ‘selling’ yourself.

However, despite its off-putting connotations, building networks is essential to forging long-term relationships and establishing a good professional reputation over time. It involves meeting and getting to know people who you can assist, and who can potentially help you in return.

The Importance of Networking

Networking is an essential craft to master, no matter what industry you work in or your level of experience. Good industry networking has a basis of trust and support – and can mean the difference between a mediocre career and a phenomenal career.

With the right approach, people networking can provide the opportunity to build mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals in your industry. Once you’ve established a solid professional network, you’ll be the first to know about job opportunities in your field and front of mind for anyone in your network who is seeking to hire someone with your skills and experience.

Who Should You Include In Your Professional Network?

Having the right contacts in your professional network can help maximise your career growth and learning opportunities. Consider building your industry network with people from the following groups:

  • Current and former colleagues
  • Classmates/study peers
  • Professors/teachers
  • Friends or family members in your industry
  • Members of relevant industry associations, sporting teams, social and interest-based groups or religious communities
  • Peers from digital professional networks such as LinkedIn
  • Recruiters who specialise in your field

Examples Of Professional Networking

Networking can include everything from an informal chat at a neighbour’s barbecue to attending a specialised industry networking event. In any case, the goal is to open the lines of communication and start building relationships that are relevant to your work and career.

Common examples of professional networking include:

  • Joining industry associations or clubs
  • Getting involved in networking events, expos, conferences or careers fairs
  • Connecting with and reaching out to relevant professionals on LinkedIn
  • Meeting recruiters
  • Keeping in touch with former colleagues
  • Getting to know current colleagues
  • Volunteering and participating in community events
  • Attending industry meet-ups
  • Joining virtual groups and communities

The Biggest Benefits Of Industry Networking

employees-smiling-in-a-group

Here are 12 reasons why you should consider building work-related networks:

1. Strengthen your network business connections

Networking is about sharing, not taking. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship. By doing this, you sow the seeds for reciprocal assistance when you need help to achieve your goals.

2. Tap into your network for ideas

Your network can be an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas to help you in your role. Exchanging information on challenges, experiences and goals is a key benefit of networking because it allows you to gain new insights that you may not have otherwise thought of.

Far from it being a nuisance, most people love being asked for help – it’s flattering and makes them feel useful. If you’re struggling with a decision, challenge or new direction, calling up a trusted former colleague, mentor, teacher or friend to organise a coffee can be beneficial to both of you, as they will in turn think of you when next they have a challenge.

Offering helpful ideas in return is an excellent way to build your reputation as an innovative thinker.

3. Raise your professional profile

Being visible and getting noticed is a benefit of networking that’s essential in career building. Regularly attending professional and social events will help make your face known.

Create value for other attendees by listening carefully, following up on conversations, remembering names, and offering your knowledge and expertise.

You can then help to build your reputation as being a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive member of your profession by offering useful information or tips to people who need it.

Raising your profile within professional circles will also help you stand out to recruiters, who are always on the lookout for strong talent and who may be more likely to approach you with offers.

Related: The pros and cons of using AI to write resumes for job seekers

4. Grow your personal brand

Being visible and getting noticed is a benefit of networking that’s essential in career building. Regularly attending professional and social events will help to get your face known. You can then help to build your reputation as being knowledgeable, reliable and supportive by offering useful information or tips to people who need it.

Related: Is Singapore happy at work?

5. Get access to job opportunities

Expanding your contacts can open doors to new opportunities for business, career advancement, personal growth, or simply new knowledge. Actively building networks helps to keep you top of mind when opportunities such as job openings arise and increases your likelihood of receiving introductions to potentially relevant people or even a referral.

Don’t forget that many jobs don’t even get advertised – particularly as your career advances – so being a recognised part of networks is a key way to gain access to opportunities that you might not have otherwise.

6. Exchange best practice knowledge with your network

Networking is a great opportunity to learn about the business techniques of your peers and stay abreast of the latest industry developments. A wide network of informed, interconnected contacts means broader access to new and valuable information.

The opportunity to gather new information is an often-overlooked benefit of networking, as it’s not the most obvious one, but it also offers career progression and development.

It’s a good idea to actively ask your contacts about developments and techniques, but also to keep an eye on what kinds of articles your contacts are sharing on LinkedIn – don’t forget to comment to let them know that you’ve appreciated the piece. And don’t discount the insights of people from other industries – they may be able to offer new angles you hadn’t previously considered.

7. Get career advice and support

Gaining the advice of experienced peers is an important benefit of work-related networks. Discussing common challenges and opportunities opens the door to valuable suggestions and guidance. Offering genuine assistance to your contacts also sets a strong foundation for receiving support in return when you need it.

Related: 3 impactful resume templates to guide your resume writing process

8. Build your confidence

By continually putting yourself out there and meeting new people, you’re effectively stepping outside your comfort zone and building invaluable social skills and self-confidence that you can take with you anywhere. The more you network, the more you’ll grow and learn how to make lasting connections.

Related: 10 tips to help you work smarter

9. Gain a different perspective

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of your professional realm and end up in a rut. By networking, you can gain insights that only come from viewing a situation with fresh eyes. Asking for opinions from contacts you trust or admire can help you see things in a new light and overcome roadblocks that you might not have known how to circumvent otherwise.

10. Develop long-lasting personal relationships

Of course, the point of networking is to develop and nurture professional relationships, but some of the strongest and most long-standing friendships are borne from work connections. Your networking contacts are probably like-minded people with similar goals as your own, so it’s not unlikely that your professional support network will spill over into your personal friendships.

11. Get an answer to every question

As long as you have a strong network of professional connections, you can be confident that someone within your sphere will be able to answer even your toughest questions. And, if there’s no definitive answer, you’ll have a solid sounding board to bounce ideas off and put into action step-by-step plans to tackle bigger problems.

12. Find your dream job

Professional networking opens many doors in the form of career advice, lasting relationships and even landing your dream role. You never know who might be hiring for your ideal job, or know someone who is, and the more people you have in your network, the likelier you are to be the first to know when those big job opportunities pop up.

Related: 5 steps to creating your career plan

How To Start Networking

colleagues relaxing with drinks

As much as building networks is beneficial to your career and even your personal life, the reality is that it doesn’t come naturally to many people. In fact, for some, the thought of starting a conversation with a stranger at a conference or event incites downright dread.

A good rule of thumb is to plan ahead and have a few relevant points of discussion in mind if you know you’re going to be in a situation where you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people. These conversation points don’t have to be all about work – they can even be about topics like hobbies or the event itself. The idea is to get the conversation flowing and leave room for future meetups and discussions.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of networking?

The benefits of networking include access to job opportunities, professional connections, career advice, new ideas, and valuable information. Networking also helps with personal and business growth, building relationships, and gaining a competitive edge in your industry.

Why is networking important in the workplace?

Networking in the workplace benefits everybody involved. It is important because it helps build professional relationships, opens doors to new opportunities, and facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practices. It also aids in career development, personal growth, and business success.

How can I take advantage of networking opportunities?

You can make the most of networking opportunities by attending networking events, industry associations, and conferences. Engage with professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn, participate in virtual networking events, and join professional groups to establish a strong professional network.

How can professional networking help my career development?

Professional networking can assist your career development by providing access to job opportunities, career advice, and resources. Building a strong network of industry professionals can also contribute to your career progression, personal growth, and long-term success.

What is the importance of attending networking events?

Attending networking events is essential for building professional relationships, expanding your personal network, and gaining access to valuable resources. These events provide opportunities to meet other professionals, share ideas, and learn about the latest trends and business techniques.

How can I improve my networking skills?

You can enhance your networking skills by practising small talk, attending networking events, engaging with professionals on social media platforms, and seeking advice from experienced networkers. Also, consider following networking tips and resources to help build strong connections and maintain long-lasting relationships.

How does networking help with job search and career opportunities?

Networking can help you discover new job opportunities, gain career advice, and increase your chances of being recommended for positions. A strong professional network can also help you stay updated on the latest industry developments and provide insights into the job market.

Can networking also benefit my personal life?

Yes, networking can benefit your personal life by helping you develop long-lasting friendships, build self-confidence, and expand your circle of contacts with shared interests. These connections can enrich your life and offer support in various aspects of your personal journey.

How can I overcome my fear of networking?

To overcome your fear of networking, practice making small talk, attend social events, and focus on building connections based on common interests. Remember, networking is a two-way street, and it involves meeting others with similar goals and experiences, so don't be afraid to share your ideas and ask for help.

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