Learning to network is an essential professional and social skill. The skill helps you broaden your professional circle, build relationships, and develop integral contacts. The more people you know, the more likely you will succeed at your career goals.
Keep in mind networking is not about developing close, personal friendships. Yes, some connections will evolve into friendships, but the primary objective is to meet people who can help you professionally. Discover the ins and outs of networking and why it's so important.
What Is Networking
In its most basic form, networking is the process of sharing or exchanging information for professional development. Professional relationships help to secure jobs or professional advancement.
Networking can occur through one-on-one interactions but is more likely at social events or mixers. The process is all about building your professional social network.
Why Is It Important
AI platforms and tools perform many application assessments, helping businesses weed out candidates well before a human lays their hands on a resume. Because the application process is so impersonal, applicants must find better ways to stand out. As strange as it is, sometimes knowing the right people is more important than a stellar application or resume.
Companies, especially in the white-collar sector, fill most jobs through professional networking. Putting yourself out there and sharing your name, skills, and achievements with the right people is how the world works.
5 Tips for Networking
Networking is an intimidating prospect for most people; many find it a vulnerable process without guaranteeing success. Thankfully, there are many ways to ease into the process and prepare.
First, you want to know your career goals. What does the roadmap to success look like for you? People want to know why you're open to new job prospects. They also want to know where your interests lie and with what organizations or careers. Take time to research and brainstorm what it is you want.
Second, attend networking events. Colleges and businesses will often host networking events, including luncheons and conferences. So organizations even offer memberships.
Third, clean and beef up your social media presence. Virtual networking is just as effective as in-person nowadays. Be sure to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and clean up any awkward links on other social channels.
Fourth, join alumni associations. Universities, colleges, and high schools have alumni associations. As a graduate, you have access to these groups, which can help you reconnect with old friends and possibly connect with future colleagues.
Finally, keep an open mind and give yourself a break. Take time to get to know the people you're chatting with. While events aim to establish professional connections, you want to do more than walk around handing out your resume. Listen and engage in conversations and know that networking takes time.
The Value of Networking
Networking aims to establish and cultivate a reliable network of professionals that can lead to career opportunities. While it can seem like events are compilations of mini-interviews, they are designed to help you find professional support.
Support and guidance are investments, and you must prove your worth. Prospective contacts must learn to trust you, which begins with rapport and connection.
View each interaction as a sincere and genuine discussion between two potential friends or allies. Established professionals will not stake their reputations on just anyone.
Networking is essential in the modern job market—the more people you know, the more chances for success and career advancement. Talk to a networking professional to learn more.