Let’s be honest - to most people, the idea of introducing yourself to strangers isn’t all that appealing.
So, unless you’re a social butterfly, you may find it hard to push yourself to try networking.
The thing is, though, networking is actually extremely beneficial for your career. You get to share ideas with professionals in your field, develop new skills, and even find new job opportunities.
In this article, we’re going to teach you why, exactly, networking is so important for your career, as well as give you some tips on how to network better. Read on to learn:
- What is Networking?
- 5 Reasons Why Networking Is Important for Your Career
- 15 Statistics That Show Why Networking Is Important
- 6 Tips to Get Good at Networking
So, let’s jump right in.
What is Networking?
Networking (also known as professional networking) refers to building mutually beneficial connections with other industry professionals.
Although networking has many benefits, including improved confidence and creative intellect, most people engage in networking to advance their careers.
Essentially, this is what sets networking apart from simply meeting new people - the intent to build a meaningful connection that will help both parties to speed up their career development.
You should also know that there are 3 types of professional networking:
- Operational networking means developing intra-organizational relationships or, in other words, building stronger connections with your colleagues.
- Personal networking defines what most people mean when they use the term ‘networking’ - meeting other industry professionals that work in different organizations with the goal of enhancing their careers.
- Strategic networking essentially combines the two above-mentioned types of networking.
5 Reasons Why Networking Is Important for Your Career
Without further ado, here are the 5 reasons why networking is important for your career:
#1. Builds Your Reputation
One of the main reasons why networking is important is because it helps you build a reputation.
Networking can help you establish yourself as a reliable, supportive, considerate, and knowledgeable industry professional. If you do it right, people may eventually perceive you as an industry expert.
Not to mention, building a solid reputation can help you attract more career opportunities, such as job offers and business partnerships.
So, here are two often overlooked networking tips that will help you build a strong reputation:
- Listen. Active listening can help you seem engaged, respectful, and selfless. Besides, it’s very likely that people will be more willing to listen to your advice, stories, and ideas when they feel heard.
- Offer help. Instead of focusing on self-interest, prioritize sharing advice and tips with others. By offering your expertise and knowledge, you can build a reputation as someone who’s trustworthy and competent.
#2. Makes You Noticeable
Regularly attending networking events helps to make your face known to hundreds of people. As such, increased visibility is another reason why networking is important.
Essentially, the more your network expands, the more people are aware of what you can offer and what you’re looking for. So, whether you’re a business owner or someone looking for a job, raising your profile can open doors to new business and career opportunities.
If you want people not only to notice you but also to remember you, a good piece of advice to follow is to learn other people’s names.
Oftentimes, people don’t put much effort into memorizing names - and especially so when they’re meeting dozens of new people (e.g. in speed networking events).
Nonetheless, referring to people by their names will help your conversations seem more personal and sincere. Not to mention, calling people by their names makes them feel more important, resulting in a great first impression.
#3. Strengthens Your Support Network
Without a doubt, one of the main reasons why networking is important is because it enables you to build a strong support network.
Sooner or later, most people face some kind of professional problems or general dissatisfaction with their job.
These problems can range from having to solve an issue at your work that you just can’t wrap your head around to job loss, burnout in the workplace, and everything in between.
The key to effectively tackling these rough patches in your career is to have a support network, and there’s no better way to build it than through networking.
If you’ve just got fired, for example, your connections can refer you to companies in your industry that are hiring. If you feel stuck with a task, on the other hand, there may be someone in your network that will know exactly how to help you.
One thing is for certain - no matter the challenge, it’s much easier to overcome it when other professionals have your back.
#4. Promotes Business Growth
If you are self-employed, perhaps the most important reason why networking is important for you is that networking facilitates your business’ growth.
Here are the 5 main ways in which networking helps you grow your business:
- Increases awareness. Whether you freelance or own a business, networking is an effective way to let others know about your products and services. If you’re looking to introduce your product to a larger audience, consider participating in a trade show.
- Expands your customer base. The formula for growing your customer base is simple - the more people know about your product, the more they’re likely to buy it. In addition to that, if your customers are happy with your products or services, it’s very likely that they will recommend them to others.
- Enables you to stay on top of trends. The business world is rapidly changing, so you may find it hard to keep up with it. Luckily, networking helps you to easily stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and innovations. If you want to learn what’s new in the industry, attending conferences and other networking events is especially useful.
- Helps you improve your product. By connecting you with other professionals and business owners, networking allows you to learn what worked and what didn’t for them, get advice, and receive feedback. Not to mention, networking also gives you a chance to connect with industry leaders who may offer you guidance if you’re lucky.
- Allows you to know your competitor. Networking helps you meet your competition, which is crucial to staying ahead of your competitors. For example, if your competitor introduces a new product during a networking event, it gives you an opportunity to see any potential gaps in their product that you could fill in with your product.
#5. Introduces to Industry Leaders
Let’s be honest - accessing experienced professionals, industry leaders, and other influential figures in your industry can be difficult, especially if you’re just starting your career.
Nonetheless, networking can help you build connections with important people. Typically, the professionals in your network will naturally introduce you to other experienced industry professionals.
However, if your current network is small and you haven’t built any powerful connections just yet, consider attending professional conferences where you can meet industry leaders.
If you’re bold enough, try striking up a conversation with a keynote speaker that interests you after their speech. Chances are, they’ll be happy to answer your questions. If you’re lucky, a connection like this could also lead to a mentorship opportunity.
In other words, networking can help you meet industry experts that you otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to meet, which is another very important reason why networking is important.
15 Statistics That Show Why Networking Is Important
Undoubtedly, numbers are one of the most effective ways to illustrate why networking is important.
So, here are 15 eye-opening networking statistics that prove the value of networking:
- Networking is responsible for filling in 85% of job vacancies. Source: HubSpot
- 7 out of 10 job openings aren’t publicly advertised. Source: CNBC
- 70% of people report that networking helped them to find their current job. Source: PayScale
- Although less than 50% of people maintain their professional network, 80% of people believe that networking accelerates their career growth. Source: LinkedIn
- Nearly 90% of professionals consider networking vital to their career development. Source: GrowMap
- 23% of job seekers rely on networking to find a job. Source: Chakir
- 35% of people discover career opportunities through their friends. Source: Jobvite
- Nearly 70% of event planners find new clients in networking conferences. Source: Event Manager Blog
- Nearly every second freelancer finds job opportunities through their family and friends. Source: Fit Small Business
- Networking typically provides job seekers with higher-quality job offers, including offers with higher wages. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
- 1 in 4 professionals around the world has established new business partnerships by networking on LinkedIn. Source: LinkedIn
- Networking provides women and men with an almost equal chance of finding a job, which is 26% for women and 25% for men. Source: Clutch
- Employees tend to be happier with the jobs they got through networking than through other sources. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
- 35% of people report that a casual conversation on LinkedIn has resulted in new career opportunities. Source: LinkedIn
- 95% of professionals think that in-person networking is crucial to maintaining long-lasting business relationships. Source: Harvard Business Review
6 Tips to Get Good at Networking
If you want to master the art of networking, consider following these 6 foolproof networking tips:
- Connect with the right people. If you want your networking efforts to pay off, you need to be strategic. As such, instead of just anyone, connect with people that can help you achieve your professional goals. For example, if you’re looking to make a career change, focus on building connections with people that work in the industry you’re interested in.
- Build mutually beneficial connections. If you want your professional network to lend you a helping hand when you need it, focus on creating connections that benefit both parties. Otherwise, the people in your network may feel as if you’re just using them for your own gain.
- Maintain your network. Professional relationships are no different than personal relationships - if you don’t put in the effort, they may fail. To build solid and long-lasting relationships, make sure to keep in touch with your professional network. In most cases, writing a short networking email or sending a message on LinkedIn is more than enough.
- Perfect your online presence. Today, most people network on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms. As such, you want to make sure that your social media profiles are up-to-date. Not to mention, 70% of prospective employers check and assess their candidates’ social media pages, so you want to keep them professional, too.
- Attend networking events. Networking events are excellent if you’re looking to expand your professional network, improve your networking skills, and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry. If there aren’t any in-person networking events around you, consider participating in webinars and other virtual networking events.
- Arrive early. It’s much easier to approach people before they settle into groups, so try to show up early to networking events.
And that’s all - by now, you know all the most important reasons why networking is important AND you have the statistics to prove it.
On top of that, now you know the most effective tips that will help you get the hang of networking in no time!
Before you go, though, let’s go over the key points of this article:
- Simply put, networking means building connections with other professionals.
- Networking should always be beneficial to both parties.
- The reasons why networking is important to include a better reputation, increased visibility, a stronger support network, improved business growth, and more impactful connections.
- Statistics show that, apart from helping you find new clients and boost your career growth, the main reason why networking is important is that it opens up new employment opportunities.
- To become good at networking, make sure to build an online presence, keep in touch with your network, and regularly participate in networking events.