The benefits of networking for career advancement cannot be overstated enough. Indeed, the advantages of networking is somewhat even underrated, considering that it creates for the career professional long-term relationships with mutual benefits.
When we think about networking, the first thing that might come to mind is “exchanging information.” While that is true to a certain extent, this is perhaps a gross oversimplification. Yes, a networking career will naturally involve an exchange of information, but the value of a truly strong professional network can only contribute to someone’s success if they know what to do with that knowledge and how to benefit from it.
In addition, the advantages of networking can be leveraged if one has created a strong networking channel over time. And “time” is the operative word here because a solid networking career needs to be nurtured just as a seed is carefully sown and then watered to eventually yield growth, the end product of which is a sturdy tree — a strong career borne out of networking, if you may.
But throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks won’t work with networking, and may actually diminish the benefits of networking for career advancement, contrary to what many people might believe. Simply making connections with everyone you can think of, without properly choosing who to network with, can even be counterintuitive, believe it or not. You don’t have to — and should not — network with everyone. It would be prudent to first determine how you can contribute to the success of those you want to network with, in addition to identifying how you stand to benefit from their knowledge.
A networking career, after all, should be a two-way street — success should not just be for you, but for everyone who you network with as well.
So far, up to this point, we have discussed the advantages of professional networking and talked about those who are interested to network right off the bat. But on the flip side, there are business and working professionals who are skeptical about the benefits of networking for career advancement.
But even for those who do not understand its value, networking must be viewed as a — yes — necessary evil, something that even the most skeptical and networking averse among us must do to build a career or grow a business. Indeed, networking has long been recognized by successful working professionals as an essential stepping stone in building a thriving career, establishing oneself in a professional community, or growing a business — start-up or otherwise. However, the impact and advantages of networking go far beyond simple connections.
The advantages of networking is that it can open doors that may have previously been shut to you. A networking career can also help expand your thinking, allow you to innovate — a valuable skill in this day and age of “innovate or go extinct” — making networking one of the smartest decisions you will ever make in your professional life.
So without further ado, what follows are 5 benefits of networking for career advancement. Read on.
1. Benefits of Networking #1: Get an Avenue for Newer Opportunities
One of the most apparent gains of professional networking is access to new opportunities. And the benefits of these opportunities cannot be ignored. When someone is in the market for a job, looking for investors for a start-up, or searching for new customers, professional networking can definitely help get one’s foot in the door. The benefits of networking for career advancement — and for business gain — can be achieved by building relationships with others, especially those who are outside one’s usual professional circle.
Gaining access to a wealth of opportunities that you may previously not have been able to tap into is just one of the many advantages of networking.
So how will you know when networking is starting to pay off for you? People will start noticing you, and this is where new opportunities will open up for your career or business. This is the beauty of networking: When you’ve done the heavy lifting — that is, when you’ve done your homework and have networked over time — you will notice that your business or career will begin to grow even with minimal effort because of the new opportunities that you have opened up.
Opportunities like meeting the ideal clients for you if you have a business, or meeting people whose minds you can pick to help further your career path are just some of the benefits of networking once you’ve opened up avenues for newer opportunities.
One tip to making the most of your networking experience? Improve your professional communication skills.
2. Benefits of Networking #2: Increase Learning and Development
Let’s use an analogy here: It is fairly common for someone who is looking for answers for a niche topic to turn to websites, blogs, or social media pages that have been put up specifically to address different niche questions. Needless to say, these websites, blogs, or social media pages can be used by an individual for extra sources of information. Why the analogy? Because the same thing applies to networking, and this is actually one of the benefits of networking and an underrated benefit at that: learning and developing professionally through an extra source of information.
Networking can be a platform that can work as an extra resource library for you. One of the advantages of networking used as an extra source of information is that it informs and educates you on the latest career or business trends relevant to you. A networking career done right can also function as a resource that grants you with much-needed information that you can access whenever the need arises.
And with this extra source of information comes an increase in learning and development. One of the advantages of networking is that it’s not just about making connections — it is likewise about developing, learning, and increasing your perspective professionally. By going to events, joining discussion boards and forums, and networking with others, you will gain the chance to absorb much-needed professional information and develop your expertise and acumen.
A great networking career stems from meeting people who have exceptional perspectives that you can add to your own. Another one of the benefits of networking is that you might even meet a coach or mentor who can guide you in growing your professional skills so you can achieve your goals. What’s not to love about networking?
3. Benefits of Networking #3: Grow Your Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence
Another one of the benefits of networking that’s underrated is your self-esteem and self-confidence will grow by leaps and bounds. Sure, your self-esteem and self-confidence have grown over the years, but thanks to your networking career, which has connected you with bright minds, there’s nowhere to go but up. The advantages of networking is it also provides you with an opportunity to outdo even yourself during interviews for a job opportunity, for instance, or during business pitches or meetings. Needless to say, the more efficiently you network with other working professionals, the more self-confidence and self-esteem you can build over time.
4. Benefits of Networking #4: Develop Lasting Professional Relationships
If a well-planned and well-executed networking career is a mutual relationship, then having the right attitude toward networking can definitely help you professionally. One of the unsung benefits of networking is that you develop long-lasting relationships. As we already mentioned earlier in this blog post, networking is a two-way street. And because of this two-way street of giving and taking, you open the doors for lasting relationships, one of the biggest advantages of networking.
But perhaps most importantly, building a professional network is not always about one’s career or business growth — it’s likewise about building relationships with those who understand well the trials, pressures, and the highs and lows of your profession. We all know how stressful a professional life can be. And this is where valuable emotional support comes in, one of the most important advantages of networking. It’s no secret that many working professionals struggle with feelings of solitude while focusing solely on their careers.
But by connecting with others, these professionals gain access to valuable emotional support, which can be extremely valuable for one’s well-being and mental health. It takes two — or more — to tango in a networking career, and no person is an island: So there really is no good reason to go lone wolf and do it on your own, especially with so many professionals on a similar journey as yours. Readily available access to valuable emotional support in a networking career can help you navigate challenging times more successfully.
5. Benefits of Networking #5: Build Up Your Brand and Reputation
Progressing in your status as a professional is a continuing process, depending on how you have focused through the years on your networking career. Successful career professionals are what they are today in their careers, thanks in large part to the mindful networking they’ve diligently done; the contacts you keep in touch with can, naturally, be attributed to your growth. One of the benefits of networking, when done well, is that it grows your status and opens up greater opportunities in your career.
And another intended consequence of growing your status is effectively building your reputation and brand as a direct result — another one of the unacknowledged advantages of networking. By showing up at events and joining online communities with your newfound status you will, in turn, take advantage of opportunities to showcase your knowledge and abilities and foster a positive reputation among your peers. The more people you interact with positively who acknowledge your expertise, the more opportunities you gain — one of the big benefits of networking and focusing on your networking career.
A networking career, when done right, is well worth it. But before you can enjoy the benefits of networking, you must put in the work.
Successful professionals frequently say that they do not invest in a business, they invest in a person. Your brand and reputation are often considered the foundations of success and a determining factor for many potential clients choosing to do business with you, or potential hiring professionals wanting to bring you into their organization and offer you that fulfilling job – and, eventually, career — that you’ve always wanted.
The advantages of networking for career or business growth can never be underestimated.