How often have people told you that the more people you know, the better the odds are someone is going to recommend you for your dream job?
Too many, I agree.
Because networking is not really about getting that one job. It can be, of course, and the contacts you make today can come back and help you overcome a future hurdle.
However, there is more to be had from leaving your lovely cocoon and stepping out into the world, head held high, ready to embrace the challenge.
After all, comfort is the enemy of progress, as the Greatest Showman will so delightfully remind you. Don’t let it be the death of you.
Also – no one is ever going to give you your dream job. You earn the dream job.
1 – Networking can Introduce you to the People you Desperately want to Meet
They say that the six degrees of separation are applicable in any sphere of life. Meaning that you are at any given time only six people away from the person you so desperately want to meet, be it a mentor, a potential client, anyone. The more you put yourself out there and talk to people, the more likely you are to meet some of the biggest names in any line of business.
So start talking to people on LinkedIn and other social networks, book yourself a seat at the next big industry event, or even an event that is industry-adjacent, or step things up and organize an event yourself. Organising a conferencing event is a great way to have a chance to welcome and speak in front of the biggest names you are looking to reach.
2 – You will Learn More about the Business
People are often stuck believing that their competitors are their enemies, and that not only should they not socialize, they should not even come into contact. This is of course not at all true.
While some industries are more potent for networking than others, you can always find a way to contact people who could teach you something, or whom you could help out in a way.
For example, if you are doing marketing, why not connect with developers and designers, who can give you a few pointers about the way the web works? This will hugely help you in your own line of work, and can get you on the radar when they are looking to recommend someone for the services they don’t offer themselves.
On the other hand, networking with your actual competition can change the world. I kid you not. Think of the, albeit fictional, Stark Expo – ideas that are born in an environment where people are at a similar level and are working to solve the same issues can never be stopped.
3 – Networking Makes You a Better Person
If you don’t go out trying to sell yourself or the services you offer, and are in it simply to help someone out, you will be putting some good out in the world. If you believe in Karma, this is a good thing in and of itself.
Even if you don’t, you will surely benefit from lending a helping hand. There are those handy referrals again, but even more importantly than that, you will walk away knowing you have helped someone and made their life just a bit easier, and that is a good feeling to have. This positivity will automatically translate into any other projects you are working on.
Look out for the people who may be looking for some of your services, but can’t afford them. If a minute of your time can save someone hours of theirs, why not invest it?
4 – Networking Makes You a Better Person
I’ve just said that, I know.
If you are like me, an introvert, then you know that getting out there and talking to people can be terrifying. However, the more you do it, the better you will get at it, which means you will get better at communicating all ‘round. In turn, that will again help you do business better, and you will be more in tune with yourself.
Communicating has not become any easier, even with all the advancements that are supposed to help. Yes, you can now talk to someone a world away, but that does not mean that what you say will be received as you would like it to be.
Work on your people skills, your presentation skills and your manners. Learn how to express yourself better both in writing and in person. I know people who can be incredibly clear in writing, while they stutter as they speak. Try to turn yourself into a great communicator, it will make all the aspects of your life easier.
5 – A Sounding Board for Your Ideas
If you work alone or in a small team, it can be hard to know if an idea you’ve just had is sound or not. Even if you talk about it to your friends and family, chances are they are not a part of your industry, and they will not be able to give you the advice someone more seasoned might.
Getting to know the people who work in similar situations day in and day out will allow you to bounce ideas off each other, and come up with something spectacular. Someone has likely already tried something similar, has walked in those same shoes, and they can offer valuable advice.
Find a group of likeminded individuals who work in your industry and area, and have a weekly or monthly cup of coffee or working lunch. Talk to each other about the projects you are working on. Collaboration is not the death or progress. On the contrary, it is the best way forward, for all of your endeavours.
Now that you are armed with this sound advice, the time has come to go out there and start meeting people. No matter the channel you choose, make sure to focus on more than one after a while. Try to overcome your fears, and remember that others likely have them too.
You will be surprised by the outcome of networking. And yes, it can likely lead to a coveted business opportunity, without becoming the focus of it.