When you want to make a career change, or in the worst case, you are already unemployed and need to find a job, the first option is to look for job offers. Obviously, this is the right approach. However, over the years, more and more experts have emphasized the importance of the Internet in expanding employment opportunities. But, that doesn’t mean that we only go through our contacts to find a job; networking goes beyond that. Moreover, establishing a strong professional network is a long-time investment; it does not happen overnight. Even if you’re not looking for any advance in your career, networking has proven to be a valuable tool. In this article, we’ll give you a more in-depth insight into the benefits of a good network and how to build it.
There are, indeed, many ways to make new contacts. Some of them just come naturally like coworkers, colleagues, family members … because you have something in common. But there are others which we have to look for and which consider our interests.
Nowadays, with new technologies, it has become easier to stay in touch with people all around the world. We can contact anyone at any time. There is a wide variety of options for communication. And during the COVID-19 crisis people discovered new ways to network without leaving their houses. While we have this extra advantage that was not at our disposal some years ago, this should encourage us to expand our network.
The benefits of having a good network are countless; amongst them, we can highlight:
The contacts we’ve made throughout our lives and, especially during our professional career, can end up being our boss, clients, suppliers, partners, friends … a whole world of opportunities. Sometimes the person you think you have less in common with; is the one that ends up being the right contact. In the Digital Age, the number of opportunities are higher, people can connect with someone with just one click. Yet a vast network doesn’t always mean good opportunities; you have to know which ones are the higher-quality ones.
Having people standing with you and supporting you is very important. When it’s time to make an important decision or change in your life, your contacts might be beneficial. You can always ask for their opinions or points of view and get new ideas from them. You’ll have people of trust to lean on in your hard times. Besides that, in some cases they also bring new clients, employers, etc. or can even help you expand your network.
When networking, we are continually exchanging information with others and learning from them, sometimes without even realizing it. Being constantly in touch with different people from various industries or sectors enriches our confidence and interpersonal skills. We will always have something to learn from our connections that will help us in our personal and professional growth.
Having a good network is crucial for your career and personal development, so having the right networking skills is vital. Of course, each person has their own experience when making contacts, and that leads to some misconceptions. There’s not only one style of networking since everyone is different, but here are some useful tips for you:
Build Your Personal Brand
Above all, first impressions are crucial. When introducing yourself to someone, you need to know what you want to transmit. Know your goals and explain them to them. If you tell them your objectives, they might have or know someone with the perfect opportunity for you. Your personal brand will say a lot about you and who you are. It will also differentiate you from other potential competitors.
Look for Network Platforms
On top of that, we live in a digital society, and one of its features is the hyper-connection and use of social networks. Every day there are more ways to connect with people around the world. Consequently, the channels of communication changed, meaning we don’t need to go out to meet people. So, if you’re a busy person and don’t have much time to set up meetings or encounters, just use your computer or smartphone. There are a lot of ways to network online, for example through webinars or online conferences (among others).
Trust Comes First
If you intend to connect with someone and establish a stable relationship with them, it is important to build trust first. When hiring someone for an important project, people often rely on recommendations from people they trust rather than strangers. So, instead of just exchanging your phone number with somebody, create an atmosphere of trust first.
Care about Them
Don’t only look out for your own interests, but learn how to care about others. Networking isn’t just about gaining something from others, but also about giving mutual support in your professional or personal progression. Be curious and learn about the other person’s interests, business, goals, and achievements. It’s equally important to know what you’re looking for when networking and think about what you’ve got to offer. As Dale Carnegie once said: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Positivity and Open-Mindedness
Don’t let a bad experience with someone end your desire to meet more people. Keep assisting in seminars, social events, business fairs, or even in the elevator! Take advantage of every opportunity to network and try not to miss any opportunities to connect with someone. Furthermore, a diverse network opens up more doors for your future development. Doing this will allow you to increase your confidence, and once you’re used to it, interacting with new people will become easier. Additionally, being open-minded and interacting with people from different backgrounds will give you a broader scope of life and new perspectives.
Keep in Touch with Your Network
As we already mentioned before, networking is a long-time investment. It’s not only about adding a new contact or connecting on social media. If we want to maintain that contact, we should follow up on them from time to time. It’s essential to reach out every now and then, instead of just going to them only when you need their help. Invest time and dedication on networking rather than looking for immediate benefits.
We all know that making new contacts is not always as straightforward or as fun as we think. Sometimes we find ourselves in awkward conversations we don’t want to have, albeit there’s always a way to escape or avoid them. Finally, never underestimate the importance of your contact and give a helping hand when needed. You never know when you’re going to be on the other side of the fence. In summary, when building your network don’t forget to:
- Build your personal brand
- Look for network platforms
- Create trust first
- Care about your contacts
- Be positive and open-minded
- Keep in touch with your network
By Kaixi Jia