The word “networking” elicits a myriad of emotions in people. To some it causes fear because it sounds complicated, unauthentic, and uncomfortable.
To others, it creates excitement at the thought of linking up with new people and learning new things. Some even deem networking to be demanding and exhausting.
Due to the various perceptions of networking, people approach it in different ways. Some of those who consider themselves to be successful in their careers and businesses relegate networking to the backseat.
On the other hand, those striving to build careers or ventures regard networking to be very important.
Unfortunately, most do it incorrectly by being only self-centered: Many think they can quickly reap benefits from networking, instead of trying to build long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Networking is not foreign to human beings, since they are social beings. It involves fostering genuine relationships with real people. It is nothing complicated.
You may be unaware, but you have been networking all along, so you should not take it as something that is daunting or difficult.
It can be done almost anywhere and at any time—be it at church, professional conferences, social places like nightclubs or hotels, learning institutions, and many other places.
All that you need to do is build real human linkages before anything else.
Pillars of a good network
A good network is founded on three main things: visibility (being aware of each other), credibility (getting to rely or depend on each other), and profitability (generating benefits to both parties involved).
You need to go out of your way to meet people or connect with them, even through social platforms, and get to know each other.
From there, you can then be bridges for each other to places, people, and opportunities otherwise inaccessible to you, and each of you must ensure to keep your word and be reliable.
Reasons for networking
So why should you network? What are the benefits of networking to your career and business growth?
Below are some reasons why you should start networking, or if you are already doing so, to strengthen your networking skills:
Gives you access to information on hidden opportunities
Networking gives you a rare chance to get information on informal or hidden opportunities—whether they are in the job market or in businesses, even if you may not be actively looking for a job or in a particular line of business.
You may be aware of some existing vacancy in a company through a formal advertisement, but chances are you can learn of this opportunity much more in advance through networking.
For example, someone you network with may learn of a colleague who is retiring and, being aware of your capabilities and qualifications, alert you about the vacancy informally.
You could end up on the frontline for getting the position even before advertising for it.
When you network, you get people from all backgrounds into your web of connections.
You can benefit from these different people for advice on various matters: business, career, social issues, and more.
You get advice that you can trust and rely on as it is from people you have established authentic relationships with.
Not to mention, you also get to strike a good work and life balance through these interactions.
By networking, great opportunities are born, like when entrepreneurs form partnerships or joint ventures get into the business.
The various partners may each contribute their expertise to the company, such as financial matters, marketing, information technology, and human capital management, among others. The partners can also raise more funds to build a robust business.
Referrals and additional business
Perhaps this is the primary reason why business owners get into network groups or take part in networking activities.
You get high quality and already closely vetted referrals or business connections, and all you have to do is follow up and turn them into clients.
Therefore, networking will generate higher quality leads than other marketing techniques.
The cliché “It’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know” becomes real in networking, as you can connect with otherwise inaccessible, influential people by the people in your network.
To succeed in your business and other pursuits, build relationships with people who can be relevant connections so you can call or approach them when you need such linkages.
You must see beyond the person that you are networking with directly, as that person may have established networks that you can make use of.
Improving your profile
When it comes to marketing, getting noticed is crucial.
You should become more known by attending networking events and other activities and offering to help where you can.
When those people need something, you will be the first person that will come to their minds, thus leading to referrals and business opportunities.
As you network and challenge yourself to talk to people you have never met or you do not know to build networks, you build your confidence.
This is a crucial business skill, as the success of business is dependent on being in communication with people and establishing relationships.
The essence of a good network cannot be overemphasised, and you should endeavour to have strong networks because they can lead directly to success, as the above discussion demonstrates.
The things that you do and the kind of person that you are has a lot to do with the people that you surround yourself with, hence the need as a business owner to have uplifting and positive people around you.
Networking offers you the perfect opportunity to relate with great people since businesspersons who network are mostly successful.
Thanks Steve, these points are all definite foundations of success.
It’s hard to believe networking alone can do so much good for someone!
Many people shun the idea of networking, and often leave it relentlessly on the back burner.
I’d even go so far as to compare it to the typical “New Year’s resolution”, which lasts a week and goes no further.
If you’re not the most confident person and are looking for some tips on networking, feel free to check out our blog post: 10 Networking Tips for Shy Professionals
Or, if you want more careers advice and job search tips subscribe to our weekly blog here.