Build a strong professional network which is essential for career advancement. It can open doors to job opportunities, provide valuable knowledge, and help you establish yourself as an authority in your field. In today’s digital age, networking has become easier with the availability of online platforms like LinkedIn. However, there is still value in traditional face-to-face networking. In this article, we will explore the best strategies for building a professional network, whether online or in person.
Understanding the Power of Networking
Networking is often misunderstood and viewed as a daunting task by many individuals. However, it is crucial to reframe your thinking and understand the benefits it can bring. Effective networking is not about making a sales pitch or asking for favors. It is about building equal and balanced relationships with mutual give-and-take. Networking is similar to nurturing friendships, where both parties benefit from the connection.
According to Judy Schoenberg, co-founder of Evolve Me, 80% of new roles are secured through personal and professional connections. This statistic highlights the importance of networking for job leads. Additionally, research by Francesca Gino, Maryam Kouchaki, and Tiziana Casciaro published in the Harvard Business Review shows that networking leads to broader knowledge, improved innovation, faster career advancement, and increased status and authority.
Getting Started with Networking
Whether you are new to networking or looking to expand your existing network, here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Identify Your Existing Network
2. Embrace Weak Ties
While your close connections can provide support and guidance, research from MIT suggests that weak ties on platforms like LinkedIn are more likely to help you land new job opportunities. Weak ties have social networks that overlap less with yours, increasing the chances of accessing unique connections and information. Therefore, make an effort to connect with individuals outside your inner circle to maximize your networking potential.
3. Be Curious and Listen
When networking, it’s crucial to be genuinely interested in others and their professional journeys. Avoid the common mistake of dominating conversations to prove your knowledge. Instead, focus on gathering insights by asking insightful questions and actively listening to the responses. This approach not only helps you build rapport but also shows your genuine interest in establishing meaningful connections.
4. Give to Receive
Networking is a two-way street. It’s essential to contribute and provide value to your network before seeking assistance or referrals. By freely sharing your knowledge, offering help, and making introductions, you create a foundation of trust and reciprocity. This approach ensures that when you need support, your network will be more inclined to assist you.
5. Stay Positive
Maintaining a positive mindset is crucial for successful networking. Research published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that individuals with a promotion-focused mindset, who view networking as an opportunity for growth and advancement, are more likely to engage in networking activities and reap the benefits. By embracing a positive outlook, even if you are shy or introverted, you can overcome any aversion to networking and make meaningful connections.
Also Read- Unlocking The Power Of Positive Thinking
6. Avoid Controversial Topics
When engaging in professional networking, it is best to steer clear of sensitive topics such as politics, religion, and sex. These subjects can easily lead to disagreements and potentially harm your relationships. To maintain a harmonious network, focus on common professional interests and goals rather than divisive topics.
Online vs. In-Person Networking
There is an ongoing debate about whether it is better to build a professional network online or in person. The truth is, both approaches have their merits, and it is beneficial to establish connections in both environments. Online platforms like LinkedIn offer vast networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with professionals from various industries and locations. On the other hand, in-person networking events, conferences, and industry gatherings provide face-to-face interactions that can foster stronger connections.
The key is to leverage the advantages of both online and in-person networking. Online platforms offer convenience, accessibility, and the ability to connect with a large number of individuals. However, in-person interactions allow for deeper and more meaningful connections. Striking a balance between the two approaches will help you build a robust and diverse professional network.
Building a professional network is essential for career advancement. It provides access to job opportunities, knowledge sharing, innovation, and increased authority. By reframing your mindset and understanding the true nature of networking, you can embrace its benefits and overcome any aversions. Remember to start with your existing network, be curious, give freely, stay positive, and avoid controversial topics. Whether you choose to network online or in person, combining the best of both worlds will enable you to establish a strong and supportive professional network. So, take the first step, and start building your network today.
- Online networking platforms like LinkedIn and paid services such as Evolve Me and Athena Alliance have gained popularity due to the limitations of in-person networking events during the pandemic.
- Research suggests that a diverse network with weak ties can provide unique connections and job-seeking opportunities.
- Networking is not limited to making sales pitches or asking for favors; it is about building equal and balanced relationships with mutual benefits.
- A positive mindset and a focus on learning and common interests can enhance the effectiveness of networking efforts.
- While both online and in-person networking have their advantages, a combination of both approaches can lead to a more robust professional network.