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benefits of growing your network: Active professional networking is vital for a career or business growth. Many look uninterested when they hear the word “Networking” and immediately associate it with illegal meetings, cheesy events, or the idea of selling yourself. Most of the time, it is not their fault, as many do not know the meaning of networking.

What is Networking?

Networking is meeting and building a long-term relationship with new people who share a professional or industrial interest to develop a good reputation over time. In simple terms, it involves meeting people you can assist and who can potentially be of help to you. A good networking system has a basis of trust, support, and availability of value. This means that both sides must have something to put on the table to further strengthen the relationship.

It is rare to find a one-sided network. Once the push and assistance come from one side without them gaining anything in return, it may weary that side. Many people find it hard to reach out to strangers; this might be detrimental to their success. Professional networking often takes place in informal and formal settings such as events, offices, one-on-one meetings, email, LinkedIn, or industrial associations.

You will want to say we meet different people every day; is that networking as well? Yes, you may be right, but what sets networking apart from other meetings is your intention. You could imagine a guy walking up to a young lady on a cold night out, normally, there could be an ulterior motive but intention matters. The goal is for professionals to meet, connect and help each other grow in their respective careers.

Networking can happen anywhere; your intention is key. It could happen when old friends meet, at birthday parties, etc. As an entrepreneur or a professional, building a successful business or career takes a lot of time. Having a good network of friends and associates to draw energy from is helpful. By surrounding yourself with people of the same ambition, drive, and energy, you are more likely to move forward. Networking is not about connecting with a vast number of people; it is connecting with the right people who can help you grow.

Importance of Networking

Interacting with people from different professions, cultures, backgrounds, and nationality gives you a broader scope of life. Your urge to learn more increases every time you socialize with people of different ages, points of view, or beliefs. Let’s see some vital and common importance of networking.

1.       Connect with different people

Networking allows you to connect with different people. You get to meet people who have another point of view, people with similar goals as you, etc. These are people who could help or potentially help you in the future. The gift of men is the most underrated among men. However, you must sieve those that you want. Not everyone that wants to meet you is a good person. Many have the ambition but lack the character to maintain a relationship.

2.       Strengthen business connections

Networking is about sharing and not talking alone. There could be instances where you meet someone of higher status and they see the potential in you. Such a person might want to help you and invest heavily because he knows you will one day reciprocate. Networking is about developing trust and helping one another towards achieving our goals. By regular engagements with your contacts and finding means of helping them strengthen your connection. Also, you are sowing the seed for reciprocal assistance when you need help in the nearest future.

3.       Opportunities

Basically, networking will result in opportunities. It is therefore left to you to know how the opportunity will come. It might come in the form of referrals, partnerships, or requests for your service. You must be ready to seize the opportunity when they come and also do a good job for another time.

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4.       Raise your profile and get noticed

There are many talented professionals out there who lack the proper connection. It is not easy to be easily spotted in the crowd, especially in a world of fierce competition. Networking allows you to sell what you have or what you can do to people. When you start building a relationship with the right people and talk more about the values you can add, it brings a speedy process. If they don’t need your expertise, they might know someone who needs it.

benefits of growing your network

It can also help you secure a good job or referrals.

5.       Increase your confidence

It is not easy to talk and connect with strangers. This is one of the problems many people have in networking. How will I start? When can I act professionally or casually? Do I have to rehearse words before going? You need the confidence to be able to approach strangers and build a connection. The more you do that, the more you build your confidence.

6.       Get fresh ideas

One of the beauties of networking is meeting people of different scopes and ideas. Networking could be an amazing source of new ideas and viewpoints. Discussing and sharing information on some challenges, goals, and experiences will allow you to gain new insights. When you hear about other people’s success stories, it gives you the drive to succeed. Riding in the wings of connection might help you when you are struggling with some decisions in your life and career.

7.       Build mentorship

As flattering as it might look, most people love being asked for help. It makes them feel useful. You could become a mentor or find a mentor when you network. Receiving immediate advice from experienced colleagues is important, especially when they have gone through a similar journey in life and career. It provides you with the opportunity to discuss common challenges and get instant advice and solutions. In addition to that, it might also be you offering advice and providing solutions to people who need it.

8.       Positive health effects

Aside from all the job and career advantages discussed above, networking has a positive health effect. As you build relationships, you establish a sense of importance. There is an emotional boost when people help you, or you help people. It has been proven that the greatest predictor of long-term happiness and success is social connection.

Hindrances to Networking

Here I’m going to explain the Hindrances of Networking:

Lack of proper communication skills

One of the most common hindrances to networking is a lack of proper communication skills. Many people do not know how to converse and sustain conversations. Some people are rude and mannerless in their approach, making it difficult to cement a relationship.

Individual differences

Individual differences make networking difficult. Although people may share common goals and ambitions and even tread the same career path, but have individual differences. Individual differences are inevitable in networking because you are meeting new and total strangers. That is why it is sometimes important to keep the relationship professional.

Trust issues

The presence of trust issues may also hinder networking. Some people find it hard to trust another person, hindering their disposition of ideas and knowledge. It may make them hold back some career tips or vital information. However, this could change over time as you build a healthy relationship.

Imbalance in values

A balance in value is rare in networking; networking can be hindered when a party feels they are offering more than what the other party is doing. Networking is about sharing but what happens when the sharing is not balanced? It is not a must you chase a relationship; if it is not helping, cut off from it.

Fear of releasing information to a rival

Some people are reluctant to share or seek advice because of the fear of giving the competitors a clue about their success.

benefits of growing your network

How to start networking

Before networking, have a goal and a strategy. Your manner of approach matters and it might require you to build yourself. Initiating exciting conversations with strangers doesn’t happen overnight, especially for people who are introverts. It takes time to build excellent communication skills. There is no perfect style to initiate conversation or rules that guide you; develop that approach that best suits you. Different tactics and approaches for different people; what works for network A might not work for network B.

Good communication skills require creativity. To determine your best approach, you may have to try various strategies. There is a wide range of approaches ranging from complimenting someone’s outfit, acknowledging their beauty, or making jokes about their present situation. Implementing your most comfortable approach will aid your networking goals. After identifying your best approach, the next is to find places and events to network.

–          Develop a good communication skills

–          Look for professional and social opportunities

–          Plan ahead

–          Leave a positive impression

–          Constant follow up

Frequently asked questions:

Here are the some Frequently asked questions:

What skills do I need to grow my network effectively?

Ans: Communication skills, interpersonal and relationship skills, and wisdom of rightly choosing your networks.

Must I strive to keep all my connections?

Ans: No, keep those that are helpful to you.

Can I restrict my relationships to formal and work alone?

Ans: No, over time, you will know those connections that need to be sustained and can be taken further.

Finally, nourishing your relationship is crucial. Follow up on your new friends and mentors. Having a good reputation with a wide range of people will increase your chances of advancing career-wise or job appointments and referrals.

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