In the professional world, networking is a word you hear often – and may even be a pillar to your work success. People who are established in their careers or who are not looking to make a career change might not see networking as beneficial or relevant.
However, networking should be an essential component of every person’s professional development. Meeting new people and collaborating with others can greatly enhance your life and vocation.
Before you opt out of the next social event in your area, take a look at these seven ways networking can enhance your career.
1. Exchanging ideas.
Being surrounded by different people can help you gain new insights and perspectives. It may be the opportune time to share ideas with others, even those who are not in your professional scope. Don’t be afraid to bounce ideas off of other people and ask them for their input as well. They may have an outside perspective that could enhance a project you are working on.
2. Discovering new opportunities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor found that close to 85% of jobs are filled by networking. Even if you are not looking for a new career path at the moment, you might meet someone who works at a company that you are interested in pursuing a job with in the future. Connecting with people from various organizations can keep you in tune with other career opportunities that are available.
3. Building a resource guide.
Try to intentionally network with individuals who are knowledgeable or who are well-known in your profession. Down the road, you may find that you need outside help or guidance from someone who has been in your situation. The majority of the time, these people enjoy being a resource to help others. You will discover that their years of experience can help you avoid mistakes they encountered.
4. Developing lasting relationships.
The people you meet at networking events could end up developing into lifelong friends. These may be like-minded individuals who you enjoy having conversations with, who you can relate to and who will challenge you to continue to grow in your profession.
5. Finding professional mentors.
Networking can provide the perfect opportunity for you to find a mentor who is an expert in your particular field. Within your city, there are more than likely local chapters of professional development networks related to the field you are in with individuals who are open to being mentors. Your mentor can play a key role in giving you advice and support your professional development.
6. Improving communication skills.
By putting yourself out there, you can develop your interpersonal skills. At networking events, you will come across individuals from all walks of life. It will challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and teach you practical communication skills, such as how to be a better listener and being confident enough to talk to strangers.
7. Building your reputation.
Being present at local social or professional events can help build your reputation. The more present you are, the more likely people are to remember you. By getting connected to a professional chapter in your community, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Next time your coworkers mention they are going to a networking event, ask them if you can join in. Or, be sure to take the time to look for networking opportunities in your community, such as joining a local professional club or chapter. For some people, the thought of interacting with new people can be daunting, but the long-term benefits for your professional development will outweigh the initial anxiety.