Considering that the age we live in is the age of global connectivity and the rapid flow of information, networking seems to be more relevant than ever. If your mind is filled with questions like ‘Why is networking important?’ or, more precisely, ‘Why is networking important in business?’, you’re in for a treat.
In this article, we’ll provide you with answers to those and many other networking-related questions, but that’s not all! By helping you explore the many benefits of networking and the best networking strategies as well, we hope to inspire you to take maximum advantage of it! With that in mind, let’s embark on this journey together.
Networking is a great way to expand your professional network, build a reputation, establish a brand, grow a business, and find new career opportunities.
You can network offline in a traditional way and online via professional platforms and social media.
To get the most out of networking, ensure you communicate efficiently and respectfully, show up consistently, and take part in relevant discussions and events.
Places where you can network include seminars, conferences, webinars, workshops, trade shows, social media groups, online platforms, and similar events and venues.
What is Networking?
Networking is a useful practice based on connecting and building relationships with people from the same profession or industry.
While in the beginning, it was based on face-to-face interactions, the introduction of social media and other online platforms allowed it to expand to the digital realm, grow, and become an integral part of our professional lives.
From LinkedIn to Threads, global conferences to meet-ups, we are all a part of at least one community nowadays, whether we use it for professional purposes or not.
The fundamental purpose of networking is to exchange information and resources with professionals from the same field to find support, inspiration, career advice, or a new business opportunity. According to the latest statistics, 85% of jobs are found through either offline or online networking.
6 Reasons Why Networking is Important
Despite its many benefits, many people are still unsure why networking is as important as it is. Thus, we’ll explain some of the most significant advantages that will inspire you to use it to the fullest extent.
#1. It Helps You Build a Reputation
One of the many reasons why networking is important for career success is that it can shape your professional reputation. Reputation is not easy to build, especially if you are new to a business. Sometimes, despite meticulous work and excellent results, some people simply remain in the shadows. Networking is a great way to prevent this from happening.
Instead of waiting for someone to publicly praise you and grant you the status of an expert, you can find a community where your knowledge and experience are welcome and valued.
By sharing your experience, insights, and thinking with like-minded professionals, you allow them to get an impression of how dedicated you are. That’s because the way you talk about your work, the experiences you share, and your attitude significantly affect the reputation you will build in your career.
#2. It Allows You to Grow Your Brand
In order to build a brand, it is very important to communicate brand values through adequate communication channels. Online and offline networking are great communication channels for conveying your brand’s message.
In addition, networking can allow you to feel the pulse of your competition and, based on that, create a more efficient business plan and better define the characteristics of your brand that set you apart.
By consistently engaging with your target networks, you are building a strong brand presence, which leads to increased visibility and allows you to grow your brand reach.
#3. It Strengthens Your Business Connections
There are so many profitable networking benefits that we sometimes forget the advantages it brings us in an emotional sense.
Many people find it hard to communicate their values with the colleagues they see at work every day, even though they have so much in common professionally. Networking helps you create a community and build connections with people of similar sensibilities and aspirations.
This kind of community helps you feel more confident and can easily become one of your biggest sources of support in times of crisis.
#4. It Supports Continuous Learning
Networking gives you the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and professionals with different levels of knowledge and exchange experiences with them. This way, you stay updated with trends in your industry, find out in which direction things are changing, and which skills would be useful to work on.
Online networking provides exceptional opportunities in this sense, as it allows you to connect with people from all over the world whose different perspectives may help you broaden your horizons.
#5. It Opens Doors to New Professional Opportunities
Many companies today do not advertise open positions through traditional communication channels. Instead, they advertise vacancies on various online professional platforms, specific niche communities, and social networks.
In addition, even if you do not come across any job ad through online networking, some of the people with whom you have built a professional connection may recommend you for a position before the company officially advertises it.
Possibilities for finding new business opportunities through networking are numerous, and they do not require anything special from you except that you regularly engage and stay up to date.
This is especially important if you’re just about to start your career and still haven’t made a lot of business connections outside of college. Networking is important for students, as they don’t have that many opportunities to connect with experienced professionals. This is also the reason why networking is important in college—it can lead to finding a number of job openings.
#6. It Helps You Get Fresh Ideas
Sometimes, even when we desperately need change, it is difficult for us to step out of our comfort zone and find a way to do things differently. Networking is an extremely useful tool when it comes to this, as it enables us to discover completely different perspectives and apply the best practices of more experienced professionals.
Moreover, just by participating in discussions on topics that are important to our work, we gain insights that enable us to do things differently and more efficiently. The exchange of professional experiences is fertile ground for creativity and also fuels our professional self-confidence.
8 Best Strategies to Improve Your Networking
A lot of networking success depends on your networking strategy. This doesn’t mean you should prepare a meticulous networking plan, but there are some things you should think about before throwing yourself in to ensure you reap all the benefits from networking.
#1. Prepare Ahead
Although you should not enter networking with pure profit in mind, being prepared is important. This means that you should know what your goal is, what kind of impression you want to leave, and what you can share with others about your work.
It is very important that your tone is generally positive because complaints and negativity, even when they are justified, can give the impression that you are unprofessional.
#2. Maintain Your Network
Networking is not about showing up from time to time and dropping a few kind words. Like any connection, it requires a regular investment of your time and energy. Only if you show up regularly and take part in your community’s life can you expect to feel all the advantages of networking.
So, stay in touch with your community, either offline or online. This way, you’re showing respect and building your reputation, which is important in any kind of business.
#3. Frequent Networking Events
Networking events are opportunities to nurture relationships with your community, stay up to date with what’s happening in your industry, and have a good time. These events are mostly organized around specific topics that are relevant to the industry at a given time, so they are a great opportunity for professional development and learning.
By showing up at these events, you’re not only fostering relationships—you’re also showing your dedication and passion for work, increasing your visibility, and building your reputation.
#4. Keep Up With the Networking Trends
Some people prefer face-to-face contact over online interaction and vice versa, but the truth is that offline and online networking do not compete. Moreover, you will get the most benefit if you use them both.
Of course, it may be too demanding and time-consuming to engage 100% on both fronts, but you can make your own plan according to your preferences and trends in your industry.
For instance, digital nomads are very likely to prefer online networking as they travel a lot, making it hard to stay consistent with offline networking. So you don’t have to change your preferences. The point is just to make sure your preferences are aligned with the networking trends in your industry.
#5. Focus on Building Relevant Connections
Networking can connect you with all kinds of people. While there’s no doubt you should show the same level of respect for anyone, there’s also no doubt you shouldn’t invest energy in fostering connections that do not support your growth in any way.
So, if you notice that some connections are constantly asking for small services and free advice from you but offer you no value in return, make sure they don’t consume too much of your time.
Instead, focus on building strong relationships with people from whom you can learn and who inspire and motivate you. Find the professionals you admire and try to establish connections with them.
#6. Share Your Experience
No matter how much experience you have, simply sharing what you’ve gone through in a respectful manner can encourage like-minded individuals to recognize you as someone they can trust. Moreover, this way, you are creating an atmosphere of sharing and inviting other people to join in with their experiences, which is a perfect way to build community.
Sharing your experience and knowledge with respect will either attract people who know more to give you advice or people who know less to learn from you. So, honesty combined with respect is a great way to present yourself and establish new connections.
#7. Take Part in Relevant Discussions
Don’t shy away from expressing your opinion or sharing your experience on subjects you are familiar with. Even if other people disagree, they will still see you as a motivated professional who’s willing to listen and participate.
Simply showing up but staying away from expressing your attitude on certain topics may even seem rude or inauthentic, as though you’re there just to be seen.
#8. Develop Your Communication Skills
Regardless of whether you want to engage in online or offline networking, having excellent communication skills is a must. Communication skills encompass a wide range of soft skills, from presentation to negotiation, and they are the key to success in any business.
No matter how much knowledge and experience you have, if you can’t communicate it, you will likely stay in the shadow of people who may be less competent than you. So, practice and develop the type of communication skills you lack to enjoy all the advantages of networking.
Where & How Can You Network?
The good news is that there is no shortage of networking opportunities. From traditional to digital settings, you can surely find at least one professional community that meets your standards. Here are some of the most common networking events, platforms, and places:
Most Common Networking Events & Platforms
Business Conferences, Seminars, and Webinars: Professional conferences and educational events are the perfect places to start if you're motivated to network for learning purposes.
Educational Workshops: Workshops are a great way to meet people who share your drive and aspirations, as they focus on training and developing skills relevant to your profession.
Trade Shows and Expos: These kinds of events are great for connecting with other professionals and staying up to date with the latest developments in your industry.
Volunteer Causes: Volunteering for industry-related topics allows you to meet like-minded professionals from all backgrounds while contributing to the greater good.
Professional Associations: These kinds of associations gather professionals within an industry and support interaction between them by organizing all sorts of professional events.
Online Platforms: The most popular online networking platform is LinkedIn, but there are also many other niche-specific platforms that gather professionals and encourage them to interact.
Social Media Groups: Groups that gather professionals within an industry are now common on almost every social network, from Facebook to Pinterest. By joining them, you can get in contact with like-minded professionals and have a chance to participate in discussions, share your expertise, and foster meaningful relationships.
The digital age has brought many changes to the way we work, and because of it, a lot of us have started working from the comfort of our homes. However, despite the many advantages of remote work, the truth is that it can sometimes feel isolating. That is precisely why professional networking is more important today than it ever was before.
It expresses a natural human need for connection. Don’t look at it as only a tool or skill you must acquire to advance your career; it's also a great chance to build meaningful relationships, create your support network, find business opportunities, and learn and grow in every sense, not just professionally.