Business Networking

Why Business Networking Is Essential for Professional Success and Career Advancement

Business networking is more than simply sharing information — it is a ticket to professional achievement. Those who connect with industry peers, leaders and mentors polish their skills and stay abreast of the latest trends in their fields. Most importantly, they gain access to crucial resources and learning opportunities to develop within their roles and beyond.

Many agree networking is a requirement for moving up in one’s career, having experienced firsthand the importance of knowing somebody to get a foot in the door. Let’s dive into why business networking is essential and how to make it part of your career strategy.

Business Networking
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It’s Who You Know: Networking Up the Career Ladder

Business networking is about building mutual connections within your industry. With networking, there is an opportunity to meet new people, open doors to exciting work opportunities, learn from experts and collaborate.

Personal networking is connecting with experienced professionals to help you advance in your vocation. According to a 2020 LinkedIn survey, 73% of people get hired because someone they know introduced them to a connection. Another 70% reported already having a personal contact at a company.

You can also build deeper connections with colleagues from within your organization. Internal networking across different departments results in greater productivity, engagement, partnership and problem-solving. It allows you to gain mentorship and recognition from corporate leaders for promotions.

Building Your Reputation as a Star Professional

On an individual level, business networking helps you stand out among industry peers. You want people to know your face and your name. Making connections allows you to demonstrate your reliability and industry expertise. If you play the game right, people may even turn to you for partnership or advice.

A good reputation presents new employment prospects. Suppose you’re looking for career growth — a connection from a different company familiar with your work ethic could help you get noticed. In some instances, this could be the advancement you’re looking for.

6 Business Networking Tips to Get Ahead

Honing in on your business networking skills takes some practice. However, once you’re comfortable talking to industry peers, mentors and leaders, you’ll reap the benefits of professional development and advancement. Here are six tips for making workplace connections to boost your career.

1. Seek a Mentor

One must always be open and willing to learn to get ahead. An industry mentor benefits everyone regardless of your career level.

Consider finding a mentor as an investment in your career advancement. Working with a mentor often delivers direct access to invaluable feedback and allows you to bounce ideas off someone. Likewise, they can guide you through whatever challenges you may face in your career and help you come out on top.

With years of experience, mentors have numerous connections within their respective fields. They can connect you with people they know or recommend helpful networking groups.

You can find a mentor by joining professional organizations or through your local chamber of commerce. Your current workplace might also have mentorship programs for you to connect with someone. Another approach could be asking a person outright — they just might be willing to lend a hand.

2. Put Yourself Out There

Confidence is vital when connecting with a mentor or networking in general. You must be willing to put yourself out there to meet new people from your field. Practice greeting people in front of the mirror and refine your handshake. A firm but friendly grip will impress future employers, colleagues and clients alike.

Additionally, keep a few conversation starters in your back pocket in case you feel intimidated. Introductions come much easier when you’ve planned what to say. For instance, you might approach them with the following statements:

  • This is my first time at the conference. Have you attended before?
  • What were your thoughts on this year’s keynote speaker?
  • I heard you work for [company name]. What do you do there?Can I introduce myself?
  • My name is [your name] and I work in [department name]. I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself to the team.

Even asking to borrow someone’s pen is a great way to spark a conversation.

3. Attend Networking Events

Business networking events are the perfect environment to meet industry peers. Usually, these events are conferences, job fairs or an organized meet-and-greet through a professional organization within your field.

Consider having business cards made up with your name, position, company and contact details. It is much easier to exchange information this way. Also, many people now include QR codes linking to a portfolio or business website. A QR code maker will generate a code for free for you to use.

Aside from connecting with like-minded professionals, networking events help you learn about your industry’s latest trends. Although in-person events are highly popular, take virtual events into account, too.

4. Always Follow-Up

If you meet someone at a networking event, always reach out a few days afterward with an email — this helps strengthen your connection.

There are several ways to approach a follow-up email. For starters, mention something you spoke with them about during your meeting to help them remember who you are. You can also invite them to continue your discussion during lunch, coffee or after-work drinks.

LinkedIn is another place to connect with someone after networking. Viewing their profile will help you get to know them better and their work history.

Regardless of how you stay in touch, keep your correspondence professional. Your messaging and tone are a reflection of your qualifications.

5. Reach Out to Previous Connections

While new connections are important, so is staying connected to previous contacts. A close friend or family member in the same field as you might be an excellent person to reach out to for mentorship or work.

Offer to meet up somewhere to catch up. You could also send a direct message on social media, depending on how close you are to them. However, continue keeping your tone professional. While you want to be friendly, you are still looking for ways to advance your career.

Suppose the person is more of an acquaintance — jog their memory about how you met, in case they have forgotten you. Perhaps you had your first encounter at an event or collaborated on a project. Then, let them know what you’re after, whether it’s career guidance or something else.

6. Connect Online

Virtual networking is just as effective as traditional methods. Professional organizations often have membership directories for you to contact industry peers. Meanwhile, you can take advantage of endless connections on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn says the platform hosts 950 million active users from 200 countries. Additionally, the company claims eight people get hired every minute.

Whether you’re looking for new career opportunities, advancement or knowledge exchange, online networks could be the best place.

Move Up in Your Career With Business Networking

Connecting with other professionals is your best shot at advancing your career. Don’t be afraid to meet industry peers or ask for advice from more experienced professionals. You never know how a connection will help you reach your goals and succeed.

Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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