Have you ever worked for your uncle’s company over the summer, been referred by a friend to work at the same company they do, gone for an informational interview with a member of your school’s alumni association or received a business contact from a friend of your parent’s? If you’ve ever benefitted from these types of things, you’ve seen the first-hand effects of Networking.
Networking is often underestimated in the job searching process but if done correctly, it can actually be the best thing you ever do for your career. It’s usually free, and simply involves meeting new people in your field and forming professional relationships, relating to the industry you’re in. Networking involves forming a long-term, professional relationship with others for mutual gain. It involves a reciprocal exchange of ideas, services and contacts.
Having a vast network of contacts can help open doors for you whether it be summer internships, new collaborations to benefit your company, or getting hired for a new position. Networking is what gets you opportunities you may not have otherwise had.
You may be able to assist someone with a contact in the industry and they may be able to help you find partnerships for a new business venture. The stronger and more vast your network is, the better opportunities you’ll have for advancements in your career. Besides building friendships with other like-minded individuals, people will be more likely to work they you if you already have a connection. For example, if you have a good relationship with one of your suppliers, they’ll be more willing to go out of their way to help you out of a tight spot. If you have your own company and are looking for partnerships, there couldn’t be a better way to do this than networking with other business owners in the field.
Having a strong network, whether or not you’re starting up a business or looking for a new job, is beneficial for you. Simply knowing a lot of people in your field who think positively of you will improve your reputation and help you to become someone they immediately think of for promotions, new job opportunities, special projects and collaborations, and so on.
If you go to a lot of networking events, do yourself a favor and start keeping track of who you met when, what their job title was and briefly what you talked about. This will make it easier for you to follow up with them in the future, and also remind them of who you are. Make sure to exchange contact information or business cards when you form a new connection and try to follow up within the next couple of days to open the doors for further communication.
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