The Value of Networking: Why It’s Worth Your Time
People shaking hands at a networking event.

There’s a time-worn adage in the business world: “It’s not what  you know, it’s who you know.” While that statement may be somewhat exaggerated, it certainly carries a measure of truth. Without having the right contacts, even the most qualified job candidates may struggle to find suitable roles; and even the best companies to work for may struggle to fill open positions. The key to overcoming this challenge is, in a word, networking. When job seekers and businesses invest some of their time in networking, they’re more likely to meet their goals and achieve lasting success.

Why Is Networking Important?

Unfortunately, many people view networking with little interest or think that they don’t have time for it. However, it can be a powerful tool for both job seekers and companies alike.

For example, if you’re a job seeker, networking may help you discover opportunities that are not listed on job boards or company websites. In fact, research from CNBC indicates that as many as 70% of jobs are never published publicly; and HubSpot reports that 85% of jobs are filled through networking!

Networking can also be a critical source of research. It can help you to better understand the current market, and discern which skills you may need to further develop or highlight to hiring managers. It can bring you into contact with more experienced industry professionals who may share their best practices with you, or suggest new technologies to increase efficiency.

In addition, mingling with peers can be a great way to hone your social skills. As you interact with a more diverse set of people, you’ll become more adept at communicating effectively and building relationships — strengths that will serve you well no matter what future positions you obtain.

Can companies also benefit from networking? Absolutely! By investing in networking events, your business can enjoy some of the same benefits that job seekers do: a deeper understanding of the market, exposure to new technologies and processes, etc. Perhaps most critically, you can fill your talent pipeline with experienced, qualified professionals. Even if you don’t currently have openings for them, you may in the future — at which point you can reach out to your contact list to quickly fill those openings with the right people.

Tips for Effective Networking

Once you’ve decided to invest your time in networking, how can you get the most of it? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

Consider volunteering your time with networking groups. 

If you want to have a “soft” start in networking, this may be the best way to get your feet wet. Most networking groups have themes or specialties that create easy talking points among their members. Why not pick a networking group that aligns with one of your interests and test the waters?

Search for networking events in your area. 

You can search on Google, Meetups, or LinkedIn groups for industry-specific networking events. You can also put the word out with colleagues and friends, either in person or via Slack channels. And don’t forget to check out online communities like the briDGe, The Doyle Group’s community for technology professionals, for upcoming events.

Use networking events to grow your LinkedIn community. 

LinkedIn is one of the most impactful professional networks in existence. You can make it even more impactful for yourself by expanding your circle of contacts through in-person networking events. After you’ve met new people, keep in touch with them. Keep up with what is going on in their career. Make your LinkedIn contacts meaningful contacts.

Do your research. 

If there’s someone in particular you’d like to get in front of, do your research ahead of time. Think about how to approach them, and which questions you’d like to ask them. 

Focus on what you can give, not on what you may get. 

When it comes to networking, it’s important to avoid a selfish mindset. Building professional relationships is very much a give-and-take process — which means the more you give, the more you’ll receive. Forr example, think about how you can benefit your new contacts with your experience and industry knowledge. As a result, they’ll likely respond in kind.

Practice makes perfect. 

Networking is not easy for everyone. However, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be interacting with new people. And remember that the other professionals you’re talking with likely feel the same way! If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a break, don’t feel bad about doing so.

Prepare pre-event. 

Think about what your goals are ahead of the networking event. For instance, do you want to meet a specific number of new people? Or create a certain number of contacts in a specific field? Be sure to use SMART goals to clearly define success beforehand.

Be authentic during networking. 

Make sure you’re asking plenty of questions. And, you must be genuinely interested in the answers. Don’t worry about trying to impress others with your knowledge; rather, show that you are curious about their perspective and are willing to learn from them. 

Follow up! 

After the event is over, take some time to reflect on how you succeeded and how you can improve next time. Additionally, make sure to follow up with at least some of the contacts you make! Try to connect within 24 hours, if possible. Ask to grab a coffee or lunch. Remember that your goal is to forge authentic relationships, and staying in touch means you’re doing your part to make that happen. 

Get Started on Your Networking Strategy

In summary, networking is a great way to make new professional contacts, forge relationships, and source qualified candidates for open roles. Whether you’re a job seeker or a business executive, never discount the impact that effective networking can have. For more information on networking best practices, or to learn about upcoming networking events in the greater Denver area, reach out to our team at The Doyle Group.

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