1. Career Advice
  2. Networking
  3. The benefits of networking and how it can help your career
The benefits of networking and how it can help your career

The benefits of networking and how it can help your career

Artwork by: Jane Izmailova

  • Why is networking important?
  • Who to include in your network
  • 8 Benefits of networking
  • 1. It gives you new perspectives
  • 2. It helps you create a personal brand
  • 3. It offers access to support
  • 4. It can lead to new opportunities
  • 5. It allows you to exchange knowledge
  • 6. You can build soft skills
  • 7. You can develop long-lasting relationships
  • 8. You can become more confident
  • Tips to start networking
  • Key takeaways

Whether you find networking to be exhilarating or exhausting, there’s no question it can be helpful to your career. There are many benefits of networking. For example, it can provide access to valuable resources, open your eyes to different perspectives, and even lead you to new opportunities.

What comes to mind when you think of networking? Some people thrive on meeting new people, while others feel anxious about putting themselves out there. Whether you love it or hate it, networking can have many advantages for your career. The benefits of networking can include finding job opportunities, strengthening your expertise, and boosting your self-confidence.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how networking can be beneficial to your career, including:

  • Why networking is important

  • Who you can include in your professional network

  • The benefits you can gain by networking

  • Tips to help you network effectively

Why is networking important?

Networking is a valuable tool you can use throughout your career. Building relationships with other professionals can provide new opportunities for career growth and professional development. Your professional connections can also offer advice, support, and guidance as you navigate your career.

Besides the professional benefits you gain from networking, the practice also allows you to support others in their career development. When you help others, you become a resource and gain visibility for your skills and expertise. With so many benefits of networking, it’s essential to become skilled—or at least comfortable—with the practice of putting yourself out there.

Who to include in your network

If you’re new to networking, you might have questions about whom to include. Consider both the potential and existing contacts you have as you work to build your network. These people often include: 

  • Current or former colleagues, managers, and supervisors

  • Mentors

  • Recruiters

  • Members of professional associations or business networking groups

  • Classmates or alumni

  • Professors, instructors, or coaches

  • Connections from online forums or professional social media sites, like LinkedIn

  • Current or former customers and clients

  • People you meet at conferences, workshops, and seminars

8 Benefits of networking

If you want to take your career to the next level, it’s time to think about networking. Here are eight ways networking can improve your career:

1. It gives you new perspectives

By creating a network, you form connections with other professionals who can provide fresh insights and different perspectives on your career journey. Learning how other professionals have navigated their career success may inspire you to adopt new strategies or pursue different learning paths. While you won’t have exactly the same background and experiences as anyone else, having access to more professionals can open your eyes to different career approaches.

2. It helps you create a personal brand

As you build your network, you become more visible to others. For example, you might meet new people by attending industry conferences, joining a professional organization, or connecting with others at networking events.

This visibility allows you to build a personal brand, providing an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field. As others become more aware of your brand, they may intentionally seek you out for advice, information, or even new job opportunities.

3. It offers access to support

You can’t know what you haven’t learned. Networking can enable access to a wide range of resources and support. Potential mentors and fellow professionals in the same field can help you increase your skill set. Other connections can give you feedback or offer helpful advice to advance in your career.

Conversely, apply your strengths and expertise to give support to others. By offering support to others, you’ll be more likely to receive help when you ask for it in return.

4. It can lead to new opportunities

Whether you’re looking for your next job, a new client, or a professional recommendation, networking can unlock new opportunities in your career. Through networking, you can make inquiries and learn about potential job openings before they become publicly available. Your connections may also recommend you to people in their networks, which can broaden your job search significantly.

Similarly, networking can be a great way to gain leads and acquire new clients for your business. The people in your network may refer your business to others, especially if you agree to do the same for them.

Statistical Insight

Networking can be key to the ‘hidden job market’

Did you know some companies never post their job vacancies publicly? In a recent CNBC article, one expert estimates that at least 60% of open positions never get posted on public job boards. Instead, companies choose to fill those positions through internal hiring or referrals. Networking can be an effective method to learn about some of these “hidden” jobs that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.

5. It allows you to exchange knowledge

There’s a saying that goes, “If you're the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” Networking allows you to meet people who can share their knowledge and expertise with you. You can learn about industry developments, new trends, or market insights simply by creating these connections and listening to the people you meet.

Additionally, networking enables you to share your own knowledge with others. Through this exchange, you may come up with new ideas or explore partnership opportunities to further your career. 

6. You can build soft skills

Social skills, also known as soft skills, are essential for effective networking. These skills include communication, active listening, relationship-building, and empathy. As you build your network, you’ll become more comfortable using these skills to interact with others, which can have benefits for both your professional and personal life.

7. You can develop long-lasting relationships

The most obvious benefit of networking is forming connections. At its core, networking is about creating and nurturing professional relationships. It allows you to form connections with people who have similar interests, goals, or values as you. Often, these connections can give you a feeling of community or a sense of belonging. In some cases, networking may even help you form deep, meaningful friendships with people who genuinely want to see you succeed (and vice versa).

8. You can become more confident

One of the hidden benefits of networking is building confidence. For many people, networking can be intimidating because it involves initiating conversations and meeting new people. By going outside of your comfort zone, however, you can boost your self-confidence. When you consistently network over time, it gets easier to discuss your skills, expertise, and value with others.

This confidence can translate into other areas of your career, too. For example, you may feel more confident in your next job interview because you’re comfortable talking about your qualifications with other people.

Tips to start networking

If you’re sold on the benefits of networking, use these tips to get started:

  • Start small. If networking feels uncomfortable to you, start small by aiming to make one new connection. You might attend a networking event or join an online forum with the goal of introducing yourself to one new person.

  • Plan your talking points. It can be helpful if you plan the talking points you want to discuss, such as a career accomplishment or your areas of expertise. In addition, think of a few questions you can ask potential connections to start building relationships.

  • Be approachable. When you’re approachable, other people are more likely to notice you. Be positive and maintain a friendly attitude, so people want to get to know you.

  • Follow up with new contacts. Once you make a connection, get their contact information and follow up with them. For example, you may ask them to get coffee with you to strengthen your new bond. 

Do you want to build a network but don’t know where to start? Get personalized advice and recommendations by using Career.io’s career coaching service!

Key takeaways

  1. Networking is a tool you can use throughout your career to get support, access resources, and further your development.

  2. Many people can become part of your professional network, including former managers and colleagues, teachers, and clients.

  3. Among its other benefits, networking can help you create a personal brand, learn about new opportunities, and build meaningful relationships.

  4. If you’re new to networking, start with a small goal and plan your talking points to help you feel more confident. 

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