Networking...AHHHH! Such an often fearful topic among young professionals. We like hanging out with our friends, shooting the breeze, very informal. In my opinion, networking is a very deliberate act. You have to seek out what events to go to and who you should be talking to. In our current busy lives trying to balance career, family and social lives seems to be enough, then we have to add this element of networking to help enhance our career. I think this gets pushed to the back burner more often than not because it takes work and is not that comfortable of a situation.
As a young professional, as a human, we consistently look at a situation and apply the WIIFM concept - What's In It For Me? Networking has huge benefits. Here are a few:
1. Make connections - This helps establish you in our industry or obtain new customers by getting leads.
2. Build knowledge and skills - You can learn from others in your field or parallel fields in order to boost your own knowledge and skill level.
3. Sounding board - By meeting new people, you have additional minds that you may leverage as a sounding board in your own career or situations with which you may be dealing.
These are just a few benefits with so many more to be named. Additionally, life is unexpected. You may have a planned or unplanned change in your career. By networking, you have a web of people to reach out to about new career opportunities.
A shameless plug - my cousin is a Career Coach and Counselor (I have attached her LinkedIn address). She is the one that inspired this blog as she recently posted an article about networking without wearing out your welcome. I have attached the article's link below as well. This includes great tips about how to leverage your network.
What networks are you a part of? How do you choose? What benefits have you gotten from these? Please comment! We can all use each other's insight on this topic.