This informal CPD article The Importance of Networking was provided by Alison, Free Online Learning Provider.
The Importance of Networking
The world is slowly opening back up and after almost 18 months of social distancing and isolating, it's starting to feel like society is getting back to normal. Meetups and chance encounters are back on the cards and that's not just good news for our social lives!
Our work lives have been greatly impoverished on a variety of different fronts by the lockdowns, not least of all when it comes to the chances work offers for meeting new people. Networking has always been integral to the world of work and, while Zoom can be a very competent stand in for meetings with colleagues, meeting new people for the first time online leaves a lot to be desired. You might feel like you need a bit of practice to exercise those dormant social skills, but it's important to get back out into the social side of worklife as it will always offer up countless opportunities to those willing to look for them.
As we start to find ourselves back in a normal social setting this summer, it’s worth looking at just why networking is so important when it comes to career development, particularly in relation to exploring job opportunities.
Networking - You've Got To Be In It To Win It
You never know what opportunities for career advancement are available unless you put yourself out there and are willing to meet people. While you may not necessarily be looking for a new job now, it never hurts to be in people's heads as a potential candidate when positions come up. Career progression is as much about people knowing you as it is about you being in the know. As career coach Ashley Stahl outlines, it's often not the best candidate that gets the job, but the best communicator. With this in mind, it makes sense to be out there communicating with as many people as possible.
The Exponential Benefits of Networking
The benefits of networking are exponential because when you make a good impression on someone, the effects don't stop there. They carry that positive image of you out into the professional world and your reputation starts to precede you.
Also, as with any skillset, practice makes perfect. The more you network, the better you get at it. As you make professional relationships, you're not just improving your network in the short term, you're also learning how to better communicate your skillset and how to approach the right people. You're also streamlining your job search process, should you seek to change job in the future.
It's Always Good to Know Someone Before an Interview
While networking is not the same as actively looking for a new job, you never know when your circumstances are going to change and you might find yourself looking to change lanes. In this instance, a strong network will stand to you as it will make it easier for you to search out new opportunities. If you've been making the right connections then you could end up being interviewed for your next job by someone you've already made a strong personal connection with, which will stand to you in the selection process. Not only will they have a sense of your strengths, but your knowledge of them will enable you to give tailored interview responses that are likely to resonate with your interviewer.
It's Even Better to Know People Before Joining a Workforce
One of the hardest elements of joining a new team is getting to know a new set of colleagues with pre-existing relationships and work routines. Successful networking means that you're comfortable talking to new people and making yourself approachable. In the best case scenario, your network will already include people from your new workplace, making your integration far easier.
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