Networking isn’t at the top of everyone’s list. It can feel self-serving, intimidating, and maybe even embarrassing sometimes. Whatever way you look at it though, networking can be the difference between sinking and swimming in certain competitive industries, the public sector being one of them.
In a research study entitled “The Contaminating Effects of Building Instrumental Ties: How Networking Can Make Us Feel Dirty”, which looked at different perspectives on networking, it was found that those who have a positive outlook at connecting with others tend to have better success rates in the workplace, when it comes to their position and salary.
While you can’t will yourself to become extroverted, just in the same way that you can’t make yourself enjoy attending professional functions, or schmoozing with potential clients, you can change your perspective and the way you feel about it.
Here are 11 reasons to love networking:
- Networking can open doors to more professional possibilities
- Networking can offer an opportunity to exchange and gain new ideas
- Networking can help to build your status in your field
- Networking makes it possible to call in a favour when needs be
- Networking is another form of up-skilling
- Networking can help you get out of your own way
- Networking gives you the opportunity to evaluate your skill set against peers
- Networking gives you the opportunity to build on your emotional intelligence
- Networking helps you to give back
- Networking can find you a mentor
- Finally, and simply: new friends
Networking can open doors to more professional possibilities
85% of positions are filled through networking, 70% of people find a job through connections in a company according to data from Review42. Building professional connections doesn’t just help if you are ever on a job-hunt though, it can come in useful for for an infinite number of reasons.
It’s important to reap what you sow. Identify how you can help a connection and communicate that you can assist in X capacity. That means that you are front of mind if they need a favour, and will hopefully make that connection more open to helping you in your time of need.
Staying in regular contact helps to nurture that relationship.
Networking can offer an opportunity to exchange and gain new ideas
Your level of expertise could help another person to thrive in the same way that theirs could help you. Think about it this way, one person has the key and the other has the padlock, you need each-other to open it.
Having a group of connections you can call upon to share ideas is key to career progression and will help you to maintain ingenuinity during slump periods.
Networking can help to build your status in your field
Say your area of expertise is environmental research, and a potential connection has just been let down by someone who said they would attend a panel discussion but can no longer do it.
If you had attended that event and had met that person, maybe you would be the person sitting up on that panel! This same example can virtually be applied to any form of exposure, whether it be an in person talk or a social media call-out.
The more you connect with people on and offline, the better your chances of building your status in your field.
Networking makes it possible to call in a favour when needs be
No man is an island. There may be times during your career when you need a big bail out or a simple favour, but the more people you have in your pool of contacts, the easier it is to reach out when you do need a favour.
If you really hate the idea of socializing for professional reasons, or you view it as a waste of time, consider instead, how much time you will save if you had someone in your books to reach out to, instead of having to research and call upon cold leads.
Networking is another form of up-skilling
Even if you are at the very peak of your career, it still doesn’t mean that you know everything there is to know about your area of expertise.
Look at building your professional network as a form of up-skilling, communicating with like-minded people and engaging with new fresh perspectives from people who are coming from a different direction.
Networking can help you get out of your own way
Regularly meeting with professional peers will help you to build confidence in your field. If you are coming together with similar passions, different educational backgrounds and varied career paths, you can see how others have carved out their own professional journey.
It may just give you the umph you need to move forward with confidence and pursuing what you really want.
Networking gives you the opportunity to evaluate your skill set against peers
As with the confidence booster that networking can provide, it may also help to build a competitive edge. If you are seeing people who have the same years of experience and educational background moving up to more senior roles, getting publicity or developing within their careers, it could give you the healthy competitive push you need to keep striving for more.
Networking gives you the opportunity to build on your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence or EQ is becoming more valued than ever within the workplace. Socialising on a regular basis and taking part in team work or team building skills is one of the most effective and organic ways to build on your emotional intelligence.
Regularly attending talks, conferences, after work drinks and meeting people who are in a similar field to you outside of the office are all ways that you can build on your emotional intelligence and improve your social skills at and outside the office.
Networking helps you to give back
It’s not all about the taking! You can also give back if you build out your connections, and it helps to make you look good if you do! Becoming a mentor, getting involved in industry fundraisers or simply organising fun outings for your colleagues are all effective ways of building your connections, while also building your profile.
Networking can find you a mentor
Finding someone who has done it all before you can prove to be an invaluable way of reaching your potential, but you have to get out there if you want to find someone who can help you along your path.
This is where research is invaluable. If you can approach someone either on or offline, knowing enough about them for it to make sense for you to reach out, and identifying that you do have common interests and goals, you should have a better success rate. You can’t simple ask someone to help you for the sake of helping you, you need to graft in a way that shows it could be a mutually beneficial partnership, and in most instances, it can be!
Finally, and simply: new friends
It’s hard to make new friends without trying new things. Networking can help you to branch out professionally for sure, but it also give you the opportunity to make friends for life, friends with similar interests and passions!
Whether you love nothing more than a natter, or prefer alone time, if there’s one thing to take from this article, it’s that it is never too late to meet new people, and you never know how those connections could positively impact your life until you take the plunge!
Keep reading: Here’s why emotional intelligence matters at work