Why Networking Is Important and How to Make the Most of It
The social ties we build have an impact on everything we do, from our day-to-day work life to the future opportunities on our horizon to our overall career satisfaction. Networking helps us grow and become more confident in our industries while improving our interpersonal skills and ability to solve problems. When we build extensive personal and professional networks, we have a universe of colleagues and peers to reach out to when we need guidance or help. Although networking looks and operates differently in this new, more virtual world, these connections are valuable, especially now as many people are transitioning to new jobs and are more socially isolated than in the past. Networking can seem a bit intimidating, but the effort is well worth the reward. Here are some tips to make networking a breeze.
Keep an Open Mind
People can be unpredictable, which means that trying to build connections can be unpredictable, too. Going into networking opportunities with an open mind and willingness to roll with the punches will make the experience less stressful and more enjoyable. The opportunity we set out to pursue might transform into a totally new opportunity that is just as good, if not better. By keeping an open mind, we avoid getting locked into particular mindsets that close doors instead of opening them. Finally, plans change, including plans for networking meetings. While it is frustrating to have the specifics of a networking date change at the last second, by keeping an open mind, we allow for flexible rescheduling and future opportunities.
Say Yes to Everything
When we say yes to every networking opportunity, we expose ourselves to a wealth of resources and people that we would have never gotten to meet otherwise. You never know what a particular professional development lecture might lead you to discover about yourself or the work you do. A one-on-one over coffee with someone in a completely different industry might not immediately seem beneficial to you. However, cross-industry collaboration can open our minds to new, innovative ideas, and coalition building can help us find people with similar goals to achieve those goals.
Take Advantage of the Virtual World
These days, most meetings, conferences, lectures, and networking events have gone virtual to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While in-person meetings often lead to deep, impactful conversations, there are several advantages to virtual networking. Social media can be a great place to start networking. Traditional networking sites like Linkedin are helpful for making connections and finding opportunities, but they are not the only way to network. Facebook interest groups can help you connect with people in your industry. These groups often share upcoming events that might be of interest, find new job and career development opportunities, offer people a platform to share their experiences and learn from the experiences of others, and make friends across the country and world. These groups also provide a centralized space for us to ask for help and vent our frustrations. Likewise, platforms like Meetup have industry-specific interest groups that can connect you to professionals within your city. Finally, most conferences are now virtual. The result is that they are more affordable (some conferences are even free) and can be accessed from anywhere, allowing you to seek out conferences that feature topics that interest you and speakers and participants with whom you would like to connect without any geographic limitations.
Marisa Powell is a Labor Organizer and Representative for physicians around the country. She is passionate about workers and helping make workplaces the best and safest they can be. After graduating from New York Law School and passing the bar, she relocated to Tacoma, WA, where she spends her days fighting for and with workers, writing for small businesses, and hanging out with her cat, Salem.