Networking is one of the most dreaded, yet rewarding practices for young professionals. For those who hate small talk or get anxiety about striking up conversations with new people, networking can be difficult. The power of social media has made it so easy to connect with just about anyone with a simple direct message.
I read an article a few weeks ago that described networking as a practice that can be so beneficial in furthering one's career that choosing to avoid networking is basically choosing to fail. Initially this sounded very extreme to me, but with further consideration I realized how significant forming meaningful relationships has been for me in my life thus far. From finding enough scholarships to pay for college, to landing my first internship, most of the opportunities that come my way are the result of a meaningful connection. Here are 3 reasons why I think networking should be an integral part of every young professional's strategic success plan.
1. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
I know this sounds cliché, but it's true. Every opportunity I've gotten has been because I either heard about something from someone, or I bounced an idea off of someone I trusted that turned into an opportunity being created for me. There are so many jobs that go un-posted on recruitment websites because people are hired through in-house recommendations. If you think simply searching for new opportunities on LinkedIn or Indeed will result in you stumbling upon your dream job, then you are wrong.
2. Missing out on networking opportunities limits personal growth.
Participating in networking opportunities helps you to develop social and interpersonal skills that make networking easier as time goes on. Not everyone is good at striking up conversations with people, and not everyone feels comfortable reaching out to other industry professionals to connect. Apart of reaching new levels of success in life is finding comfort in uncomfortable situations. Yes, introducing yourself to someone you barely know can be uncomfortable, but the positive good resulting from increased connections will overshadow this perceived discomfort in the end.
3. Building meaningful relationships will get you places knowledge and skill will not.
You can literally be the best at what you do, but without developing interpersonal skills and a strong network of support, you will have increased difficulty in pursuit of your dreams. The first step in developing a strong network is to find a mentor in your profession. There's always someone out there who has already done what you're doing, so gaining insight about their journey, using applicable advice to guide your decisions, will be extremely beneficial.
Networking will open the doors to opportunities you never imagined. I must note that the most valuable connections are fostered with genuine intent. While oftentimes networking is about forming relationships for the sole purpose of furthering specific career aspirations, you must remember that logically, healthy relationships must be mutually beneficial. When you make connections with people, think about what you have to offer that could benefit them instead of just focusing on how they can benefit you.
Even treating someone to a cup of coffee in exchange for them taking time out of their day to meet with you to talk can be a really nice gesture that shows you value their time and expertise. I challenge you to reach out to an industry professional you might know of but haven't formally introduced yourself to yet. You never know what doors just one connection will open for you.
Today, you have the power to form invaluable connections that could potentially catapult your career. Are you up for the challenge?