Networking is one of the most important and most undervalued things you can do in your career. In addition to not valuing this important exercise, most people also aren’t doing it right. Networking is about more than signing up for a “networking event” once in a while and plopping down a pile of business cards on the table before you head to the buffet. It’s about building meaningful and lasting relationships, and most people feel like they don’t have time for all that. But those relationships are the ones that will help you grow and develop as a person, so it’s more important than ever to develop your networking skills.
Networking is not just about getting jobs. Those business relationships can take your career to the next level. Who do you think is going to do better at their job - someone who erroneously thinks they are an island and can do their job all alone in a solitary bubble or the person who knows it takes a team and knows the right people to ask for help?
Networking also puts you into other people’s circles in a way that handing out business cards just isn’t going to accomplish. When someone is looking for an expert like you to do a job, are they going to go through a pile of business cards or are they going to call the person who comes to mind first?
The first step in building a real human network is hard. You have to put yourself out there and find people who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours. You have to go outside of your comfort zone to meet people who otherwise would never show up in your work circle. Meeting people is the hardest part of building relationships.
Every time you meet someone new make sure you add them to your LinkedIn profile so you can keep tabs on what they are up to professionally. Make sure you update your LinkedIn profile regularly as well so others can see what you are up to. Interact regularly so that when you see someone in person again you have something to talk about.
Networking has benefits far beyond just being able to get a job or a promotion. People with strong networks even have decreased instances of breast cancer, dementia, and premature death. Learn more about the art and science of networking from this infographic!