People who don't network may perceive it as a sleazy exchange in conversation that can result with one feeling that they have been an active participant in a sales scheme. While I can't tell you that doesn't exist, I've been there and it still does. I can tell you the pros outweigh the cons and sacrificing yourself to a bad sales pitch every so often will be well worth it in the long run. Here's why you need to be in the networking game.
5 Benefits of Networking:
1. Increased relationships = increased opportunities. Whether you network for personal or professional reasons, the more people you meet and connect with, the more doors that can be opened or knocked on in the future. Networking does not always provide immediate gratification, but you never know how someone can help you in the future. Whether it is a career, vacation advice, home purchase, or maybe a lead on some coveted tickets, it pays to have a broader network!
Tip: Go to the website Meetup, and find a networking group that you can attend. Don’t limit yourself to professional networking groups, try meeting others with shared interests or hobbies. The more you expand your network, the more opportunities you will find!
2. Establish yourself as an expert in your field. Step outside of the cube walls and show yourself to the world! Okay, so that may sound a little extreme, but step out of your work clicks and meet new people in the office. Create a personal fan base that knows you on a professional level that may not work directly with you on a day to day basis. The more people you have in more places, the more support you have in your corner. When it comes down to that promotion or job opportunity, more people can toss your name in the hat!
Tip: Have a conversation with someone in the office that you don’t work with on a daily basis. Introduce yourself to someone in a different department. Not only will this help with your communication across cross functional teams but it is increasing your visibility around the office!
3. People can show you the ropes to success. Struggling to find a mentor? Networking is a perfect opportunity to solve this dilemma. Developing a relationship with a seasoned veteran in your field can provide you with someone to give you valuable feedback, guide you through decisions on your career path, and help further expand your network.
Tip: Identify professional networking groups within your particular field and start there. If you’re looking to change career fields, network outside and identify a mentor to help you transition.
4. Creates a big picture view and broader perspective. When we are in our personal bubble our vision can be limited. By networking we are sharing knowledge, which can spark ideas, initiate partnerships, and help stay up to date on current trends and approaches.
Tip: Have a problem or business issue you’re trying to solve? Bring the question or situation to the networking group and ask for advice! Get someone else’s perspective outside of the situation.
5. Personal growth outside of the office. Some say when you stop growing you start dying. This belief can applied professionally. When we stop learning and challenging ourselves to be the best in our field our skillsets can start to get dusty. Networking is the perfect opportunity to have conversations and hear about what others are doing to stay relevant and on top of their game. Think of it as an expanded pool of resources that are at your disposal to help you succeed.
Tip: Ask what resources and trainings others have found beneficial to their
development. Depending on the industry you work in, your company may be willing to foot the bill to help you grow.
One final tip for the introverts in the audience. If walking into an event and striking up a conversation is unnerving, don't fret. Reach out to the event organizers and ask if they need volunteers for the event. Volunteering can help you dip your toe in the water and get familiar with what to expect at an event.
Now get out there and network like a BOSS!
Jenn DeWall, Denver based Career & Life Coach for Millennial women, Speaker