Building and maintaining a strong network is key for career development. Effective networking is about building connections and deep relationships that can enhance your reputation, build confidence and, over time, develop your career. Your network can be a blend of people including colleagues, friends, family, business connections or social acquaintances. Aside from simply building connections, the process of doing so can also be rewarding as you meet and get to know people who can add value to your career. Here are a few reasons why building a great network can enhance your professional development.
One of the main benefits of networking is that, often, your best professional connections will develop into personal relationships too. To have connected in the first place, you’re likely to have something in common, so it’s no surprise that those connections often transcend from professional contacts into long lasting personal friendships.
It's human nature to enjoy being in your comfort zone and that’s no different when it comes to work. While you might feel comfortable, an auto pilot or habitual approach to your job or career can hold you back, slow down progression and blinker you from new technologies or better ways of working.
Proactively seeking alternative perspectives and new ideas from your network, can help you to solve problems, view challenges through a different lens and improve both your personal and professional development.
Leveraging a professional network is also a great way to keep on top of the latest trends in the market or hear about new opportunities with companies you might like to work for. By connecting with people out with your immediate circle of friends you’ll build knowledge and a broader awareness which may, at some stage, help or better inform your career decisions.
Regularly meeting people in your network or attending industry events are just a couple of ways to build and maintain connections. By doing so with a diverse group of people on a regular basis can help build your personal brand and enhance your visibility in the industry or market you work in.
It goes without saying, that the broader your network, the more people there are who know you and in turn can vouch for you. When it comes to career advancement, who you know (or who knows you!) is often just as important as your skills. By building a good reputation through networking you are more likely to be remembered and contacted for job opportunities. Ensuring you have a strong contact in the recruitment industry is also key. Remember, recruiters often hold the key to the door for some of the best opportunities in the market – so even if you’re not looking for a career move right now, investing time building a relationship your recruiter could lead to returns later down the line!
Face-to-face networking is a wonderful opportunity to boost your confidence, a valuable social skill which will carry you far in your career – whether at job interviews, in meetings or even in social situations. By regularly putting yourself out there to meet with new people, your communication skills will also develop.
Virtual networking is now easier than ever before. And with so many video technology platforms and virtual events available, networking is still a possibility if face-to-face is not your thing. Whether done in person or face to face or a blend of both, broadening your network is a critical part of career development.