Why is networking so important?
Research has suggested a positive correlation between social interaction and health. The more you interact and form relationships with others, the more engaged you are and the more you learn. It seems like common sense. It also makes sense that if you continue to build relationships personally, you should also build relationships professionally.
Expands our thinking: Meeting new people allows the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Even if people have similar backgrounds and thinking, they can still offer different points of views that may shape the way you think. It allows you to expand your intellectual curiosity and influence how you may approach things in the future.
Career development: Intentionally or not, expanding your network may naturally support your career opportunities. As they say, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” People are more comfortable referring others they know and trust.
So, how do you make it happen? How do you approach expanding your network?
1. Be intentional.
Building your network doesn’t just happen by itself, you need to be intentional to make it happen. Join a professional association and be active. Don’t just attend meetings, serve as a volunteer. By taking initiative, you build relationships and allow others the opportunity to get to know you. Make yourself accessible to mentor others. This allows you to give back, but also expands your circle of colleagues.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Do something different. Join a new group, whether it is a book club, a committee or board of a non-profit or just volunteer for a cause of interest. By jumping into something new, you naturally meet new people, learn new things and gain more experience.
3. Network inside the company.
It can be easy to forget to network within your own company. Volunteer for a committee or project or invite someone you don’t really know for coffee. Put yourself out there to meet others. Ask them about themselves, be curious and you may expand your circle of colleagues within the company, which may lead to new opportunities.
Few people would deny the importance of networking. Putting networking into action is another story. Taking the time to invest in yourself and trying to reach out to a few new people or groups regularly, will make a difference in your life and perhaps in the lives of others.