Networking: What is it anyway?
Everyone has everyday contacts in his life: his family, coworkers, classmates and fellow students, for instance. In professional networking, it is a matter of purposely building up and maintaining a network of professional contacts. The objective is to be able to learn from each other professionally.
What advantages does a good network offer you?
You probably suspect that it takes work to build up a good network. So you’re asking yourself why should you do it. These aspects speak for it:
Your network expands your knowledge
You can’t know everything. However, if you know someone who knows the things that you need, you can increase your knowledge significantly with this contact. There is the saying “Knowledge is knowing where to find it.” You could also say “Knowledge is knowing who knows it.”
Train your communication skills in your network
If you want to maintain your network, you will inevitably have to communicate with the members. You can prove your communication skills here and also continue training them. You grow with each communication situation.
Your contacts as your advocates
You can’t always convince others directly of your qualities because, for instance, the opportunity for a personal conversation doesn’t present itself. Your contacts can act as your advocates and put in a good word with those who don’t know you yet personally. That can, of course, be helpful both when looking for a job and when acquiring customers or expanding your networking.
You get information first
When a new job opens up in a contact’s field, your company’s services are in demand or other possibilities for cooperation open up, you’re sure to find out about it early on. Probably even before the topic is made public, for example in the form of a job posting.
What matters in a network?
You could think that the size of the network matters. That is definitely not the case. Instead of collecting a lot of contacts, it’s the quality of your network that counts. It doesn’t matter either whether you have renowned contacts (famous people or an especially large number of people with titles) but that they offer something to you personally. Do you have something in common? Can you learn something from the other person? Can you teach them something? A network is good when it expands your horizon and offers you the possibility of exchanging experiences or asking or clarifying questions.