The 13 Benefits of Networking and How to Do It Right

CoachHub · 2 January 2023 · 7 min read

Professional networking is essential to growing your career. It also helps you to form long-term business relationships and build your professional reputation.

Studies reveal that:

  • 76% of professionals believe knowing the right people is important to getting ahead in life
  • 51% feel that the lack of a network is a difficult challenge to overcome
  • 38% find it difficult to maintain business relationships
  • Only 22% are actively seeking networking and mentorship opportunities

In this article, we explain why networking is important, the benefits it offers and how to network effectively.

networking

What is networking?

Professional networking is defined as the practice of establishing and building relationships and interacting with colleagues in order to exchange information, ideas and opportunities.

Your professional network may include:

  • Individuals who work in the same industry as you
  • Peers who share similar interests, skillsets, educational backgrounds or experience
  • Individuals with whom you have a business partnership (clients, vendors)
  • Former classmates and professors
  • Current and former colleagues and supervisors
  • Virtual acquaintances from professional online communities, groups and forums
importance of networking

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What are the benefits of networking?

The purpose of networking isn’t to get introduced to people who can provide you with something – a job, a sale, a reference or other support. The purpose of networking is to develop long-term symbiotic relationships. These professional connections are beneficial to both parties. Sometimes, by extension, they’re advantageous to the organizations you both work for.

The importance of networking is clear when you consider the following benefits:

  • Exchange ideas and innovations – Your professional network is a well of professional knowledge. You can share challenges and solutions and discuss previous experiences. You can bounce ideas off each other and, ultimately, spark new innovations
  • Gain additional resources – Your network is a great place to share resources. This may include online content, reading recommendations, useful tools and organizations.
  • Grow your skillset – Pay attention when professional connections recommend career development opportunities, tutorials, strategies and tips.
  • Stay on top of the latest trends, challenges and events – Learn what’s happening in your industry and career field in other regions around the world.
  • Mentoring opportunities – Expand your network to include persons of varying expertise and status. Don’t be afraid to make connections with people in higher-ranking positions. These may lead you to the perfect mentor to help you grow your skillset or advance your career. You also gain the opportunity to mentor others and expand your leadership skills.
  • Increase your professional status – Interacting with others in your industry or career field can help build your reputation as an industry expert or thought leader. In addition, the more you strengthen and expand your industry connections, the greater your value to your employer and other industry businesses.
  • Boost your professional confidence – Your confidence as an industry expert grows along with your professional knowledge, skillset, leadership and reputation.
  • Strengthen your business connections – Collaborating and engaging with your clients, prospects and business partners can help you forge strong, impactful relationships.
  • Increase your close rate – If you’re in sales, strong relationships with clients and prospects can increase your success. Face-to-face meetings have a 40% close rate and companies earn $12.50 for every dollar invested in face-to-face meetings. For this reason, the cost of sending staff to industry events is considered well worth the investment.
  • Get noticed – The quality of your professional connections can help you grab the attention of companies you want to do business with or work for. When you share helpful industry strategies and tips, you earn the attention and professional respect of current and potential clients or employers.
  • Open doors – Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a job search to build your network. A strong professional network and reputation can serve as a proactive backup plan in the event you need to find a new job. In fact, 85% of job vacancies are filled via networking. When you cultivate your professional relationships, connections in your network are more likely to refer you for job opportunities or serve as a professional reference.
  • Reassess your career path – Connecting with people who share a like interest or hobby may help you realize your hidden talents or discover new opportunities in other fields.
  • Relationships – Engaging with your network is an ideal way to expand your social circle. Meeting new people and interacting with them reinforces your social well-being, which is a crucial part of your emotional health.

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How do people build their network?

With so many benefits to networking, it’s essential to have a networking strategy. Know your goal, which may include one or many of the benefits we listed above. Then plan the channels you’ll use to expand your connections.

Some of the opportunities to build your professional network include networking events, industry events, conferences and tradeshows; social groups, networking sites and professional organizations; as well as connections with former classmates, professors, coworkers and supervisors.

You can also build up your network in other ways. Think outside of the box and go beyond your industry circles. Try volunteering your services and connecting with individuals who share your interests or hobbies. For example, if you adopted a retired greyhound, a greyhound meetup group is a personal networking group that might also benefit you professionally.

As we’ve discussed, networking is about more than just collecting business cards. You need to develop relationships with those connections. Your networking plan should be strategic and intentional. This means understanding how your interactions benefit your business relationships and how some interactions can harm it.

 

What not to do when building your professional network:

  • Don’t (just) ask for a job. Being strategic means not connecting with the sole purpose of finding a job. Remember that professional connections in your network are likely talking to each other. If you are pushy or artificial with new connections, it can quickly damage your professional reputation.
  • Don’t be one-sided. Networking should be mutually beneficial for both parties. This means an exchange of ideas, opinions and opportunities.
  • Don’t force it. Be mindful of your networking connections and don’t attempt to connect with someone that has opposing values or with whom you feel uncomfortable. Likewise, don’t force a relationship on someone who doesn’t want to connect.
  • Don’t take up too much time. Be considerate of the time your connections share with you.
  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain to or about your professional connections, current coworkers or your employer.
  • Don’t be a bystander. The key to effective networking is building strong relationships. You can’t build strong relationships without actively engaging.

 

How to build up your professional network:

  • Have an online presence – You don’t have to have a website to engage with your network. Social media groups and forums are the perfect platforms to establish a presence in your industry. LinkedIn, the largest online professional networking site is the ideal place to start.
  • Engage online – Share suggestions, news, informative content and tips with your associates. If you could write an entire article on a specific topic, do so and share it with your network. Engagement works both ways, however. Be sure to celebrate others’ achievements and be receptive and responsive when individuals engage with you.
  • Exchange stories – Discuss your challenges, successes and the obstacles you’ve overcome. Likewise, ask a peer to share their stories with you.
  • Listen – Networking isn’t one-sided. Listen more than you talk. Ask questions and request opinions.
  • Use your body language – When communicating face-to-face and via video, keep in mind that 55% of communication depends on your body language and 38% depends on your tone. Likewise, it’s crucial to read the room and pick up on signals and cues from others.
  • Follow up – Effective networking is about much more than just meeting new people. Developing strong professional relationships requires you to stay in touch. Communicate and engage with your associates regularly. If you fall behind in communicating with your network, acknowledge that lapse when you reestablish a connection.
  • Make yourself useful – Offer guidance, make introductions and share resources and valuable information.
  • Make time for a real connection – Meet a peer for coffee or lunch. Respect their time by scheduling a time to meet and showing up on time. Be genuine and communicate openly.

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How coaching can help you network

Building impactful professional relationships isn’t merely good for your career advancement, it promotes your social well-being. On a personal level, when you establish active connections, you increase your opportunities to interact and engage with like-minded individuals. On a professional level, your professional network can open doors that may have otherwise seemed closed.

If networking feels like a challenge – maybe you’re an introvert or you experience social anxiety – practicing the above tips can help you build impactful professional relationships. If you need assistance developing your communication, leadership or social skills, a professional coach can help.

CoachHub provides digital coaching services to help you reach your career goals. Learn how our on-demand coaching can help.

Request a demo now to learn more about the CoachHub digital coaching platform.

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