Networking takes time, work, and can feel like a real drag sometimes. Even if you have found ways to Network without the drag part, it still takes a lot of hard work to build a strong professional network. It can be time-consuming, too, even though it is very worth the investment.
We all know that having, and maintaining, a robust professional network can help you with job opportunities, but there are also many other benefits that are a little less obvious. Understanding the hidden benefits of having a strong professional network will help you stay motivated to put time into developing yours.
CONFIDENCE. My favorite benefit of Networking and, also, I feel one of the most rewarding side effects. Networking can help you build all kinds of interpersonal skills. Talking to new people helps develop your communication skills – something todays’ recruiters crave as do those we are selling to. Think about it who wants to buy from someone that does not make eye contact, never shakes your hand, and worse cannot properly explain their product or services? Attending networking events can be intimidating at first, but experience changes that. The more you network successfully, the easier it becomes, and the more confidence you will build.
GUIDANCE. The individuals in your network can provide you with valuable advice. In fact, one of the best perks of having a strong professional network is building your own personal board of directors. These professional entrepreneurs can offer tremendous guidance.
The wisdom they offer could be either general or specific. People from your industry can offer you insight about issues that apply to your profession. And people from outside your field can help you to navigate other areas where they might have expertise. For example, someone could hook you up with a new technology that makes your job easier.
PERSONAL OPPORTUNITIES. Career opportunities aside, having a strong professional network could be a good thing for you personally. After all, life is about more than just work.
On a practical level, folks from your network could help you connect with your community more effectively. For example, they could help you zero in on a great opportunity for expanding your business reach. Plus, you never know how a professional connection might impact your world or your life. People and opportunities sometimes come into our lives in surprising ways. When you cast a wide net, you open yourself up to all kinds of potential opportunities.
CONTINUING EDUCATION. Another one of my favorites as entrepreneurs we should always be looking for ways to grow and expand our knowledge. What better way than to share and receive knowledge from like-minded professionals. Find ways to share your value in your Network and be a true leader. Remember when knowledge is shared make sure you show your appreciation in more ways than just the traditional but often forgotten words like Thank you. The more you show your appreciation the more you will benefit – trust me!
FUN. Finally, but still very important if it is not fun it will be harder to talk yourself into sticking with it until it begins to heap rewards on you. Finding the right blend of professionals that can cut loose but still chase the money is sometimes harder than it should be. So, visit many networking groups until you find your ‘Tribe’. Once you find it – work it! When you find your Tribe hang onto them as there is probably a line out the door that would love to have your membership seat. Ultimately, networking can help us feel more connected to others and even happier in our daily lives.
Remember no one builds a business alone.
You might often feel alone, toiling late nights and weekends. You may be doing a lot of solo work as a business owner, especially early on, but if you are smart, you are not truly alone. You understand the power of relationships and communication. You are constantly searching for connections, investors, future staff, possible vendors, suppliers, etc. You are searching for motivation, inspiration, education, and advice. In short, you are networking.
If you are smart, you will continue networking and creating new relationships even after you have built a successful business. Smart people can always teach you something and it is imperative to actively engage in conversations that can make you and your business better.
Happy Networking! ~Kristi A. Kirkland