What is networking?
In business, networking involves meeting people with shared professional interests. Networking can value any kind of professional at any stage of their career, whether CEOs, small business owners, entrepreneurs, employed individuals or freelancers. Wether you're starting a business, or a seasoned professional, networking is an important skill to master.
Networking helps people build the right connections in their field of interest. For example, networking can take place in the office, at industry events or online through business websites. It can open doors to new opportunities and relationships that might not otherwise happen naturally.
While networking may occur by pure happenstance, it typically requires a more strategic process for many. To create a network plan as part of your overall business development strategy, you’ll want to first familiarize yourself with the advantages of networking and then tailor your approach accordingly.
Why networking is important
Through networking you may discover new opportunities, such as a higher role with your employer or another job altogether. For instance, someone you’ve connected with at a networking event learns about a new job within their company and shares the info with you. Or an acquaintance tells you about a unique job opening at their work. Whether you want to climb the company ladder or search for a better employer, having strong networking skills will help you achieve professional and business growth.
You can also raise your profile in the office by building your network. Increasing your visibility at work leads to more job referrals, invitations to exclusive professional events and other opportunities. Furthermore, by having a strong presence within your niche, you could become a thought leader and speak on podcasts, write guest posts, or participate in webinars.
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How to network
There’s no one way to network. Try these methods to begin networking:
01. Set goals
Having clear goals, such as becoming a manager, will help you figure out what networking approach to take. Be yourself while networking—it works in your favor when you make genuine connections.
02. Choose an approach
Answer the following questions to narrow down your networking options:
Do I want a one-on-one conversation or group setting?
Do I prefer conversing online or in-person?
Am I more comfortable networking in a formal or informal space?
Am I ready to commit to networking for an hour a day or across multi-day events?