Networking is an essential part of what we do for our businesses and careers. Networking can be done in your office building, on the street corner, at events, or even in places as random as the supermarket line. It doesn’t matter where you are because all it takes to network is one person who knows their goal and another willing to listen.
Today, we’re going to talk about what networking is, the benefits it has, and 7 essential tips for a successful networking strategy so you can start making valuable connections with other professionals who have similar interests and goals to help each other succeed.
It takes time, but once you start building your network, there are many benefits to reap: increased visibility, more opportunities for collaboration, and even new clients or customers through referrals from industry peers.
What is networking?
A networking strategy is a plan of action for interacting with others and developing new contacts that could later become friends, employers, or business opportunities.
Networking is about making meaningful connections. You don’t have to be a genius or an extrovert to network; it’s just the way you connect with others and draw them into your professional life. Making personal connections can lead to a new job, partnerships, mentorships, and much more.
Networking key benefits
Every professional, from remote workers to digital nomads, needs to expand their groups. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you will have, whether commercial or collaborative. There are multiple benefits of networking that can help you grow your career in your industry.
Benefit #1: You create a community with freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Maintaining an open dialogue with professionals from different backgrounds is essential, especially in today’s society where diversity is appreciated. Networking will broaden your horizons and cover all the bases, which will keep you alert, mentally stimulated, and coming up with fresh or innovative ideas.
Benefit #2: You get exclusive access to information.
By engaging with people outside your company or business, you’ll gain insight into what’s happening in other areas within your sector or even in other industries, which can lead to new collaboration ideas, partnerships, or even a new business idea.
Having a comprehensive, accessible and reputable circle, in most cases, means being at the center of information. You’ll learn what’s new in the area or industry before everyone else, which can lead to better decision-making regarding the direction of your business or career.
Benefit #3: Early feedback
Your current network of contacts can also be a valuable source of information. Colleagues in the industry you work in will have an idea of what works and what doesn’t from their own experiences, as well as being able to suggest a new point of view you may not have thought of before.
Be prepared to receive honest feedback on a product or service you are working on. This could lead to the development of something entirely different for your future customer database.
Benefit #4: Collaborate on projects around the world.
Being part of a community means there is potential for collaboration among members with similar interests, whether inside or outside your company, which means you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you launch a product.
You can join a professional social network such as LinkedIn, where participants with similar interests share valuable content. This builds trust between users and leads to a greater possibility of collaboration on projects.
How do you network?
One of the most important parts of networking is to start with one person at a time. Another way to network is not just to introduce yourself but to present your interests and skills. If you’re not sure what to say, try keeping these points in mind:
- Know who you are
- Know why you’re there
- Ask questions
- Be genuine
- Be open-minded
How to improve networking? 7 Recommendations
Networking is the process of developing social contacts within your field, whether business, personal or academic. It can also refer to establishing connections with people who could help you in the future. Networking is not only about meeting new people but also about strengthening ties with people you already know.
1. Have an explicit goal in mind
Networking can be a daunting task to network if you don’t define what you want to achieve. What do you want to achieve? Figure it out before you take any steps in building your network. You can write down several objectives and classify them into primary, secondary, and tertiary.
2. Also, look for mentors, not just contacts
Contacts are people who share information with you when needed; mentors invest their time and energy in helping you develop your career or grow your business through guidance on issues you may be going through. They take the training wheels off your learning curve and help you get up to speed to become independent.
3. Provide value in conversations and listen more than you talk
Ask questions about the other person’s work, interests, and life. Listen carefully and develop the interaction between the two parties based on the information you get from the other person. In this way, you increase your chances of building rapport and establishing trust.
4. Always be helpful, even when there is no apparent benefit in return
Be helpful whenever possible, especially when there is no clear benefit to you or your business. We are human, and we tend to remember this behavior, especially since most people don’t lend their help without expecting something in return.
When opportunities arise later for both parties to help each other, you will be much more likely to respond positively if your relationship was built on helping each other rather than simply exchanging information or a couple of favours.
5. Collaborate with people in complementary areas
Collaborate with others who are networking in complementary areas where value can be created. Networking does not require you to step on the backs of others; it only requires you to collaborate with people whose interests overlap with yours in a way that creates mutual benefits for all involved. Here are some win-win examples:
- Web programmer + Copywriter
- Graphic designer + Social media manager
- Digital marketer + Salesperson
6. Keep in regular contact with your network
People are busy and don’t want to hear from others until they need something, so make sure your networking is an ongoing process and not just a series of one-off interactions for personal benefit. Relationships, whether personal or professional, like plants, wither if you don’t care for them.
7. Establish strong relationships from the beginning
At conferences, webinars, or other events where you meet with many people, be that person who knows how to create value through collaboration. Avoid dominating conversations 100% of the time.
Instead, seek to collaborate with others around shared interests, even if it means letting go of some ideas about what you wanted to get out of the event. Chances are there will be more opportunities later on based on the discussions that take place.
Networking is the process of making connections with people, organizations, and resources to help you grow your business or career. Networking has many benefits, such as access to new information, opportunities for collaboration, increased visibility in the community, referrals from other professionals who know you well, and much more.
If you are a remote worker or a digital nomad, you are in Spain, and you are looking for a place to start networking with diverse people, join La Colmena Coworking Rural in the Sierra de Cadiz.