Networking typically either comes easy to someone, or it’s incredibly difficult. There aren’t too many opportunities to drop in and out of networking.
It’s not something people think of as a ‘skill’, or a ‘tool’ to develop and build on for career progression. But those who network effectively are in a much better place for career progression.
This is because networking opens doors and creates opportunities, two things that are incredibly important for career professionals. A lot of people only realize this when it’s too late. Or at least so late that they have to put in an incredible amount of time to catch up.
Networking is an ongoing process, and it takes years to build up a large trusted network of contacts. You can’t just run around and meet a lot of people overnight. My advice to everyone is always to start networking today. Here are a few of the advantages that comes with building up your list of contacts.
Networks Can Grow in Multiples
It’s hard and time consuming to meet new people, and this is the main reason holding people back. But you have to realize that each and every additional person you meet doesn’t stop with them. They all have their own contacts and networks that you can potentially be invited into.
You never know who you may be introduced to by-proxy. Potential new employers, business partners, clients, and so on. Personally, I never close the door on anyone completely, and it’s come back round to surprise me in many good ways.
Having a network of liked-minded people opens up a whole new landscape of knowledge and different skillsets. The contacts in your network will come from all walks of life, different job sectors, and with a wider range of experience and skills than any one person can have.
It’s important you don’t devalue yourself in this equation either. You are just as important to the other people in your network as they are to you. If you think about something of value to others, always share and be generous with your time.
Take Advantage of Personal Opportunities
You cannot overlook the personal opportunities that come hand-in-hand with the professional ones. You don’t have to be in career mode all the time, you will meet some great life-long friends.
There are always opportunities to leverage those professional skills for personal gain too. If you know a lawyer for example, there’s no harm in seeking their advice off the record if you have a legal concern.
You can Keep up with Industry Practices
Being part of a network can help you stay on top of the best industry practices, especially in fast moving industries. Not everyone reads literature or attends conferences. But those who do can share their knowledge with others.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions within your groups of contacts. That’s what they are there for, no one is ever going to be annoyed.
Changing Industry Is Easier
If you want to make a career change it can be almost impossible to do so without a support network. Having the strength of a network comprising of people with varied skills and qualifications makes it possible.
Reach out to those who are in the industry you want to join. Ask if they know of any job opportunities, if they are willing to be a reference for you, and for any tips and advice they can offer.
Networking with people inside and outside of your industry is a mutually beneficial and powerful way to progress your career. You will meet potential business connections, broaden your circle of friends, and increase your chances of being offered new career opportunities.
Guest post by: Phil Ahston is a personal and professional life coach. He blogs at selfdevelopmentjourney.com where you can find advice on careers, relationships, self-development and more.