In any industry—from real estate to publishing to healthcare—it’s absolutely essential to find the right person for the job. This doesn’t mean finding said person is an easy task, however, and even when you think that you might be the right person for an opportunity, just getting in the door can be a challenge. As a result, employers and job seekers who want to streamline the process of filling a position or finding a new role should invest more energy into networking.
While it’s often used as a buzzword, networking is, in short, the process of building connections and relationships with other professionals as well as leveraging those connections to help you achieve career goals. Face-to-face networking events are one of the more popular methods of making connections, but it’s also incredibly common in the digital world thanks to websites like LinkedIn and AngelList.
For countless professionals, networking is a way to maneuver to the company or the job of their dreams. Establishing a relationship with someone who works in a different organization can be helpful if you decide to look for work there: Your connection can help clue you in to job openings and maybe even put in a good word on your behalf. In fact, in 2016, 70% of people were hired at a company where they had a connection.
Networking also has benefits beyond the job search. Building connections across industries and organizations can also lead you to a mentor who can offer you advice and guidance based upon their experience. It might help you find the business partner that you’ve been looking for or the right person to bounce ideas off of who can give you a fresh perspective.
So how do you get started? First, it’s important to have a plan. What do you hope networking will do for you: Find you a job? Set you up with a mentor or new clients? Once you have this answer, pick the arena where you’ll want to start building a network, whether that’s at conferences or seminars, professional websites, or some other platform. Then, don’t forget to “work your network” by staying in touch with connections after your initial meeting. And when you have the opportunity, make sure that you help your network as much as you want your network to help you!