The Importance of Networking: Why It Is Important to Build Strong Connections

FT Contributor  | 

Networking is the act of establishing relationships with other professionals in the industry of your interest. Your network may consist of professors, colleagues, friends, and managers. These are people who can help you to advance at different points throughout your professional career. Whether you’re a student in college or you own a small business, networking is beneficial to all.

According to LinkedIn, almost 80% of professionals consider networking to be important to career success. Whether you need a letter of recommendation for a potential employer or a connection you with higher-ups at a company, a network is vital to your personal success. Learn more about the importance of networking and how you can harness these relationships and build strong connections with others.

How Networking Can Improve Your Career

Networking has both short- and long-term benefits for your career. Regardless of your career goals, networking will help you now and in the future.

Short-Term Benefits

The short-term benefits of networking include:

  1. It improves your relationships with colleagues. While you’re educating others about what your interests and overall career goals are, you may also learn a thing or two about them and you could be of assistance to them in the future.
  2. It provides an opportunity for you to grow your knowledge and skills. Networking will open doors you didn’t even know were there. For example, say you want to learn how to code. In talking with a colleague, you discover they’re something of a master coder. Without the process of networking, you may not have known this about them. Now, you can ask them for guidance or information on how they learned to code.
  3. It helps you stand out. Broadening your network allows you to keep a pulse on what’s going on in the industry you’re interested in. The more you spread the word about your goals and connect with other professionals about the opportunities they’re offering, the faster you’ll achieve what you want to.
  4. It boosts your self-esteem. Knowing people in your industry and having your opinions heard and valued will instantly boost how you feel about yourself.
  5. It allows you to help others. Let’s say you aren’t necessarily the best fit for a role someone in your network is hiring for at the moment, but you know someone who would be. Make that connection. Keeping in the good graces of your network is always beneficial.

Long-Term Benefits

Maintaining your network is just as important as developing it. Discover some of the long-term benefits that networking offers:

  1. It allows you to obtain valuable referrals. Throughout your career, you’re going to need referrals. By maintaining relationships with those in your network, you’ll have no problem finding someone to recommend you for your next job or promotion.
  2. It broadens your opportunities. Maintaining connections in your network keeps you in tune with the latest opportunities available. When it comes to finding a job, you can tap into your network to learn more about available opportunities that you may not have known about otherwise. When it comes to expanding your business, you can tap into your network.
  3. It allows you to gain knowledge. As the people in your network continue to evolve, so will you. Maintaining those relationships allows you to tap into the information in your network, which in turn helps you gain more knowledge about what’s going on in your industry.

Who You Should Network With

The short answer is you should be networking with everyone. You never know who you’re going to meet or the connections they may have that will benefit your career. While it’s important to focus on building connections with the people in your desired field, you never know what someone outside that sphere might be able to do for you, and vice versa.

Other people you should network with include:

  • Recruiters.
  • Industry experts.
  • Mentors.
  • Friends.
  • Family.
  • Coworkers.
  • Managers.
  • Business owners.
  • Teachers or professors.

How to Network Effectively

You get it — networking is important. So how do you do it? Follow the simple steps outlined below to get started.

Outreach

Reach out and build connections with people. Be personable and make your goals known. Talk about the experiences you’ve had, but don’t leave out the experiences you want to have.

You may find people through many different channels, such as work, events specific to networking, and even online communities. Get started by conducting a bit of research or tapping into your existing network.

Maintenance

It’s not enough to make connections — you also have to maintain your connections. Make it a habit to check in with people in your network. If you can, try to help them out as well, whenever possible. For instance, if someone in your network is looking for a copywriter and you know an excellent one, connect them. Doing so could be beneficial in the future.

Long-Term Goals

Determine what your long-term goals are. Are you looking for information on a side hustle? Do you want tips and tricks on working with difficult people? There is a wealth of information you’ll learn from your network — you just have to find the right people.

Having your goals in mind will help you determine how to network and with whom. As your network continues to grow, you’ll continue to uncover opportunities to connect with people and further your career.

From small business owners to college graduates just starting out, when it comes to networking, you really can’t go wrong. As long as you continue to expand your network and strengthen those connections, you’ll go far in whatever career path you choose.


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This post was updated December 5, 2019. It was originally published December 5, 2019.