Networking Is One Of The Best Tools For Career Development
Networking is more than a buzzword in today’s industry. Networking is about establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with people. It’s a two-way street. If you open doors for others and deliver good opportunities, in return you will reap its benefits.
Interacting with people from different backgrounds and different levels of experience can give you a better insight into your options or allow you to dive into a broader range of opportunities. It allows you to socialise with a diverse group of people and teaches you how to work in an inclusive culture and at the same time enhance your ability to grow as a team player and understand different ways of thinking and analysing new ideas in work.
Networking is an opportunity to practice your communication and learn more about people within or outside your circle of influence. This will increase your confidence and lower the feeling of being anxious while starting a new conversation with someone who may be a part of your new journey in your career.
Understandably at some point, we all have experienced those nerves that hold us back from going up to someone and starting a conversation or connecting with them through social channels, but this is a barrier we all need to break to gain a positive outcome.
Top pointers to overcome anxiety while networking:
Face your anxiety
Feeling anxious is normal, for some this is a severe barrier to overcome.
The biggest mistake anyone can make is to directly avoid a situation that causes anxiety in the hope that they will not have to deal with the feeling.
As difficult as it may be, find a comfortable and safe approach that suits you best and leap in the right direction. Trying to face your fears means not judging yourself for feeling anxious about the things others find no issue with. Everyone is different and deals with situations differently.
Changing your mindset can help you go to great lengths.
“Fake it till you make it” If you act confident this energy will shine through hiding your natural fears and anxiety, helping you build the confidence you never knew you had.
What's the worst that can happen? You will most likely laugh the moment off.
Preparation stands out and can make you look confident. Preparing a few questions in advance will highlight your knowledge in a particular area and will help with an easy flowing conversation.
Lastly, be open to approaching potential employers who may be interested in you but are in a different industry than you're currently in, as this new door could open possible opportunities in the future.
Things to consider while networking:
We all understand the importance of an up to date CV while looking for a new job, similarly, it is important to have a well-showcased LinkedIn account while networking as well.
By creating your profile correctly, adding your job history, skillset and additional languages you are showcasing all the important areas required to secure a job.
Having an impressive profile can lead to opportunities to connect with people outside your circle allowing open conversations about your future goals and plans in your career path. This can lead to referrals through Linkedin which can give you a greater chance at succeeding in your search for your career.
Additional benefits of networking:
Networking also impacts a person’s wages, candidates can expect to earn 6% more than average when they’re hired as a result of being referred in. This is because networking is based on recommendations and the word of an influential person can go a long way.
It has been stated that 80% of jobs that are filled through networking connections and employee referrals networking sites are two of the top ways companies report finding candidates to fill open positions.
It can also be noted that the retention rate for employees hired through networking efforts is up to 8 years in comparison to 4 years if they are hired by general methods.
Networking does not solely refer to efforts outside your workplace, it also refers to networking within your organisation, and building and nurturing relationships with your peers and superiors. It helps in professional and personal development by broadening the horizon, especially when it comes to gaining inspiration and guidance.
Sharing your views and interests to a carefully built network helps you build a closer relationship with your colleagues.
Strategies to keep in mind while networking:
- Discover your ideal approach to networking
Keep in mind everyone is unique and take a different approach when it comes to job hunting and networking. =
Some are comfortable going to events and speaking to a greater number of people at once and on the other hand, some prefer one-on-one coffee meetings. It is always important to discover what style suits you before you go forward with it.
To figure out what you're best at, it's important to try everything and figure out your style and approach. If the nerves get the best of you, it can be a good idea to start a conversation on LinkedIn
- Always think two steps ahead
Investing in personal as well as professional relationships can have a massive impact on your career boost or a new beginning. Interacting with people as small as congratulating them on their success or complimenting how far they have come to achieve their goals can open a conversation.
Choosing the right circle to network in can become an asset in the future as you may be guided and pushed to improve and grow with those you keep in touch with.
Remember, a positive word or referral can go a long way in helping your development so choose wisely.
- Always have a game plan
Going into a meeting knowing what your end goal is, is always helpful. You can never predict the outcome, but having a goal helps you prepare better. Especially if it's a one-on-one meeting, someone has taken time out to get in contact with you, a game plan in this situation can lead to a more positive outcome.
Going in prepared can help you set up for detailed conversations and turn into a possible opportunity you may not have initially planned for. This also allows you to broaden opportunities as having a proximate goal can give you a sense of direction.
- Develop thick skin
Being shot down now and then is a part of the deal. But you learn from each interaction that would contribute to your next prospect. Keep in mind that being shot down builds character and allows room for personal improvement and development.
Become more successful while job hunting
It is important to not get carried away and apply for roles that do not include your area of expertise, with that said if you are looking to take a different turn in your career path you can personalise your CV and application to best fit the role you are applying for.
For example: you can use a cover note to describe the attributes you have and how they fit in with the roles, responsibilities and expectations.
Use all the networking tools at your disposal
In a world where social media plays a huge part in our lives, it's a good idea to evaluate how you can use this to your advantage! Social media has opened so many doors to make networking a much simpler task for everyone. Platforms such as LinkedIn are in place to break the ice and improve your professional network.
You’re also able to learn about the individual’s experience and interests and make conversations far easier. So if you do see an opportunity to network, don’t hold back. Go for it, you never know when your future needs can benefit from your current efforts.
In my personal experience of networking, I figured my comfort zone is to get out there and break the ice by starting a conversation in person, that way you not only sell your skills and experience but also your personality! This gives you an upper hand to be as memorable as you put yourself out there. It allows you to target a larger audience in a shorter amount of time.
It allowed me to present myself and put a face to the name, starting with a small conversation such as complimenting the individual's passion for their choice in their career path to being able to relate to their drive in their field of interest.
Sharing common interests and passion creates a bond between two people which leaves room for endless conversations and possible opportunities. What I found interesting while networking at an event, makes you stand out from the rest as it is in your hands to make yourself memorable by showing character and charisma.
Nervous about going to events? If you are an introvert and prefer online communication, this may be a start to building your confidence, starting a conversation on LinkedIn can lead to a professional coffee meet, where you may be more confident as you would have broken the ice online.
I am always open to discussing job opportunities and networking!