If you are serious about supercharging your career in 2018, you have to get serious about networking.
When you network effectively, it can really supercharge your career, whether you are looking for promotion or looking for a change of scenery. When I talk about ‘networking’ I don’t just mean networking to create a nice group of friends. You need to network with purpose. You need to network strategically. And yes, sometimes you need to network outside of your comfort zone.
7 of the best reasons to network to boost your career
Often when I start waxing lyrical about the power of networking to boost your career, women tell me ” I don’t like networking” or “I hate those big networking events” or “But it’s so noisy and I never seem to meet the right people”.
I get that. I really do. In fact that’s why I created my own networking event because I prefer small and intimate where I can have a proper conversation over a good meal.
Don’t let your previous networking experiences put you off. Networking takes many forms and even introverts like me can enjoy networking. Choose from online networking (LinkedIn or Twitter can be powerful tools) or face-to-face, big conferences, training days, user group meetings or even a simple meet-up over a coffee.
What about fresh air networking? Breakfast, lunch or dinner. In-house or external. Industry or role specific. There’s bound to be a form of networking that works for you.
Now let me share 7 of the best reasons to network in 2018 to boost your career.
1. Raise your profile
Networking is one of the best ways to raise your profile at work and get yourself known by senior management. It keeps you in mind when the promotions are being discussed or the meaty projects or clients are being allocated.
Networking gives you the opportunity to raise your profile outside of your employer, among clients (potential as well as current), competitors and suppliers. Get a better understanding of the market and current trends.
Get a more strategic view of the firm and the bigger picture. Take time to understand the projects, clients and activities that other teams and departments are working on.
This means that you are better placed to service your clients and cross-refer appropriately. Clients love working with people who are ‘switched on’ and know what else is happening in the organisation. As do senior management. You raise your status and profile. And that’s got to be good for your career.
2. Strengthen relationships
To me, networking is about being of services to others. It’s about being helpful, offering ideas, and sharing experiences. Networking is a long-term strategy. Network regularly and effectively, and people will remember you for being helpful, knowledgeable, experienced, and informed.
This will strengthen your relationships with co-workers, clients, suppliers and senior management.
But remember … networking needs to be part of your overall career strategy. If you wait until you need your network, it’s too late. So get out there and start building those relationships. You never know when you might need to call on your network.
3. Exposure to fresh ideas
Every time you face a challenge at work, someone somewhere in your network (whether internal or external) will have faced a similar challenge in the past.
This means that you can learn from their experience. Discover what worked for them and how they would tackle the challenge in the future.
Networking provides you with fresh ideas because every individual and every organisation approaches challenges in a different way. When you network outside your organisation and industry sector, you’ll be able to see your challenges from a new perspective.
4. Minimises isolation
As you move up the career ladder, you can feel increasingly isolated because it is not always appropriate to share challenges and situations with your peers or your team members.
Get networking outside your organisation with people at a similar level and beyond to minimise the leadership isolation.
5. Extend your support network
You never know when you might need a support network … look at Carillion and how quickly the company spiralled into collapse. Many of the employees were taken completely by surprise. It’s at times like these that the good networkers have a head start on finding new employment.
Networking extends your support network. Not only does it raise your profile in your own organisation, it raises your profile among potential clients, competitors and suppliers. When it comes to jobhunting or if you are facing redundancy or looking for new career opportunities, your extended support network comes into its own.
6. Accelerate your career progression
All the reasons above will help to accelerate your career progression. Often the best promotions come from being in the right place at the right time. Actually I believe that when you put yourself in the right places on a regular and consistent basis, the promotions and career opportunities will come to you.
For example a former client worked as a Head of Department in HR. She wanted to put herself in the running for HR Director when the current director moved on. How did she do that? Rather than continue to network at the Head of Department level, she started to network at the next level up. She started to associate with the other directors. She created opportunities to spend time with the other directors, both in-house and outside the firm.
Not only did this get her noticed, it also gave her the self-confidence and mindset to believe in herself and her suitability for the directorship.
7. Open doors to interesting opportunities
One of the best reasons for networking to boost your career is that it can open doors to interesting opportunities. Not just career and work opportunities, but also speaking, writing, volunteering and media opportunities.
Find the right networking event for you and it can be fun!
And as any decent manager knows, you manage what you measure. Set yourself some personal career performance indicators (cpis) and decide on your networking strategy to boost your career, and book yourself onto a of in-house and external events. For example you could set a CPI of attending one event a month or 2 new LinkedIn connections a week.