As recruitment consultants, one of the best pieces of career advice we have to offer anyone is to start networking. But many people shy away from it because it sounds scary, and they don’t realise the benefits networking can have for your career. In this article, we attempt to take some of the fear out of networking and explain what a positive impact it can have on your working life.
Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among professionals who share a common interest. The job seekers with the most success are those who focus on creating a solid network and regularly engage with like-minded individuals.
Making the first move can feel intimidating if you’ve never done networking before. However, networking can be surprisingly enjoyable and easy to do online or by attending networking events in person. How you expand your network doesn’t matter. The important thing is to make a start and see what a positive impact it has on your career prospects.
What Benefits Can Networking Have for Your Career?
There are endless benefits that networking can have for your career, probably far too many to name. To keep things simple, we outline the ten most practical reasons why you should start networking right away.
1- It gets you noticed
The most obvious point of networking is to gain recognition in the professional sphere. In fields like IT, digital and marketing, there are more jobs available than qualified individuals to fill them. So you may wonder why a tech professional with in-demand skills might need to network?
There may be a surplus of jobs, but employers always offer the best positions to the most attractive talent. So how can you become one of those desirable candidates?
Networking can open many doors and make people take notice of you. When you create connections with people in your industry, they may think of you when an open position becomes available in their organisation.
Plus, by attending the latest industry events, you become more prominent within your sphere of expertise.
2 – Learn valuable information
We rarely get opportunities to walk right up to someone and ask who they are and what they do, what they like and dislike about their jobs or what their ambitions are. However, at networking events, this is actively encouraged.
These kinds of conversations can introduce you to people with job titles you’ve never heard of, who work for organisations you don’t know. Better still, you might meet a notable figure from a company you want to work for.
Striking up conversations with people like this would be impossible in any other situation. However, making connections at networking events is entirely possible and can help broaden your knowledge.
3 – Create long-term relationships
Regularly engaging with like-minded professionals can help you forge long-term relationships. Such valuable connections can be hugely beneficial for your career.
Once you get to know someone, they will likely be pleased if you turn to them for advice. The person you reach out to may not always be able to help you, but they may be willing to introduce you to someone who can.
Having these sorts of relationships means constantly seeing the benefits of networking over a lifetime, but it starts with attending one networking event.
4 – Opens the door to new career opportunities
Hundreds of thousands of job adverts appear daily on job boards or recruitment websites. But often, the best jobs get snapped up without a company needing to advertise them. How? By contacting people they already know and trust.
In situations like this, the value of networking really becomes evident. If you’re part of an active professional network, there’s every chance someone will contact you about a new job before releasing it to the public.
Let’s say one of your professional connections works at a company with a new position opening up. If they pass your details to the hiring manager, you would be more likely to receive a job offer for the role than a random applicant.
The reason for this is that recruitment is expensive, and it is also risky. From placing the initial job advert to hiring and training someone can cost tens of thousands of pounds. So when a company makes a mistake on a bad hire, it can negatively impact its profits.
The hiring manager might not directly know the person they make a job offer to. The fact that someone within the business can vouch for their integrity makes them less of a flight risk and, therefore, a more desirable candidate.
5 – Improves communication skills
Communication is one of the vital soft skills that almost every job demands. Unfortunately, many of us have below-par communication skills but rarely find the opportunity to practice them in a professional setting.
Attending industry events presents the opportunity to speak with like-minded professionals, which can help you become a better communicator. So, if communication is not one of your strengths, attending as many networking events as possible is an excellent idea.
6 – Find a mentor
Another significant advantage of building connections with other professionals is learning from people in higher positions and with more experience than you. They may even become your mentor!
Having a mentor can benefit you as you receive their guidance and expertise for free. Using their experience and knowledge, your mentor can advise you on the best course of action to help you achieve your goals.
7 – Create a solid support base
Have you ever considered what you might do if you were made redundant? The professional relationships you generate through networking can create a solid support base for your career.
They can offer advice and be there to support you through tricky times. They may be willing to provide references or pass your details on to someone who has a vacancy within their organisation.
8 – Gain new perspectives
Every job seeker should try to see things from as many perspectives as possible. Establishing a professional network could introduce you to interesting people with fresh ideas and new perspectives.
You never know when a connection might come in handy to discuss ideas with and learn from. These connections can help you approach situations with a different outlook, enabling you to solve problems you might have otherwise struggled with.
9 – Improves confidence
There’s no denying that networking pushes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in a situation where you have to talk to strangers. This may seem daunting to a shy introvert, but a well-run networking event can coax quiet individuals to come out of their shells.
Walking into a room full of chatty, outgoing people for the first time can be a scary experience. Most event attendees understand this and will try to make newcomers feel welcome. After all, events work best for everyone when conversation flows freely around the room.
Attending your first event can be nerve-wracking, but you only have to overcome those nerves once. Every subsequent event becomes easier, and the increased confidence you will have as a result can significantly benefit your career.
10 – Practice asking questions
Every job seeker has burning questions they’d love to know the answer to but are too afraid to ask. What they seldom realise is that the secret to successful job interviews is asking great questions. But when do we get the opportunity to practice asking questions?
Attending networking events and connecting with like-minded professionals presents the perfect opportunity to ask questions relevant to your industry. It’s also likely that other event attendees will quiz you in return. If someone asks you a great question, there’s no law saying you can’t pose the same query to someone else.
A Few Final Thoughts on The Benefits Networking can Have on Your Career
There’s no denying that networking pushes us out of our comfort zone by forcing us to make conversation with people we don’t know.
Practising talking to strangers can help you feel more positive when attending job interviews or giving presentations. Confident people tend to go far in life because they aren’t afraid to put themselves out there. By networking, you can increase your confidence to apply for a new job or ask for a promotion that catapults you up the career ladder.
If you want to reap the benefits of networking but are too overwhelmed to walk into a room full of strangers, you don’t have to. Start on social media sites like LinkedIn and build up your confidence slowly. When you get the hang of conversing online, maybe you can try attending networking events in person.
We hope that after reading this article, you have a better understanding of how networking can improve your career prospects. If you have, please share it on social media where your network can benefit from it too.