In my work, I find that a lot of people don’t start networking until they need a new job.
They think "Oh, I want to get a job at Company A now so I better start networking". And they start making phone calls, sending Linkedin messages and get tapping. I get this. Human beings often delay on action until they recognise a pressing problem. However, in my experience, it is THAT much better if you build an incredible network throughout your career and you will have so many more opportunities and choices to draw on at any point.
Here are three reasons why you don’t want till you need a job to start networking:
1. Never stop learning
First thing to know is that networking isn’t just for job searching. It’s a great thing to do to develop your skills, knowledge and leadership. From talking to a diverse group of people, mentors and subject matter experts, you’ll pick up unique trends and interesting benchmarks that might add value to your current or future work. This makes you a more powerful and helpful human being. Here’s an idea: "Everyone you meet knows something you don’t know"
2. Life experiences
While we might first meet people professionally, the best professional connections often become personal ones too and our pool of people who inspire us, challenge us and offer us a variety of different experiences and perspectives increases. This is a good thought: "A simple hello can lead to a million things”. You just don’t know how each new person might change your life. In another career development group I support, members have done dance classes together, made art together and done things other friends wouldn’t have inspired or challenged them to do.
3. Help when you need it
You might not know when, but do predict there will be a time where you have a challenge where you need help with. The more meaningful connections you have, the more chance you can get the right kind of help. It might be a personal crisis, a technical problem or something you can't even conceive of right now. A client of mine recently launched a business. For a lot of new business startups, it takes months or longer before you get clients on board who are willing and able to before you’re able to see a return With the number of connections she has in her professional network she was able to launch and get paying clients within a month. She might look like an overnight success, but actually, her success has been years in the making. When it comes to ongoing job and life opportunities, it still remains true that "your network in your net worth” and the bottom line is that 85% of jobs are filled through networking.
My challenge to you... Start today. Connect with at least two new people you’ve never made a connection with people in the next 14 days. You could invite them out to coffee, have a phone chat, or invite them to an event you’re going to. Get creative with all the ways you can meaningfully interact with people.
If after this pep talk about networking, you're feeling a bit shy to make contact or need some strategies to reach out, don't stop here. Email me for my tips and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or join my private FB community at www.facebook.com/purposebuiltcareers