Networking: 5 ways it can help your career




Networking can be misunderstood. I used to think it was just socialising, but it is much more than that. Yesterday I was at the Women’s Network Australia networking lunch and one lady mentioned how she had been head-hunted to a brilliant new job out of contacts she had made there. So here are 5 ways networking can help your career. 


  1. Meet new people. You will also be surprised by who you meet, and how connected everyone really is. You can build new relationships and even casual acquaintances can turn into contacts. Networking is not just about what other people can do for you. It turns into a reciprocal giving arrangement, where everyone deposits into the Favour Bank and then you can draw on it later. You are building a web of contacts that can help you in surprising ways, but you do have to be committed for the longer term. It is not about going along and being self-centred, but more about being open to possible opportunities that may come your way. 
  2. Learn about new businesses. As you meet new people, you exchange business cards. You should always follow people up with an email or phone call if you have a connection. Have a look at their website as well. You might find out more interesting things about their business, or ways you can help them. Down the track, the favour will be returned in some way.
  3. Build confidence in talking to new people. Networking encourages interaction with new people, and discourages only talking with people you know. You will need to join into other people’s conversations, roam the room and get through small talk quickly if you want to find out interesting things about people. This can quickly build confidence as everyone is in the same situation and generally people are very encouraging to new members. 
  4. Learn to differentiate yourself. At a non-industry networking group, there may still be 5 accountants or 3 fashion designers, and so you will need to differentiate yourself. This is a good exercise for anyone to do as it gets you thinking about your personal branding and how other people see you. This is important in any career path, not just in networking. Listen to what other people are saying about what they do. What is their point of difference? Why are you drawn to them? Now equate this to your own job. How can you stand out in the crowd? How can you be memorable?
  5. Be inspired. My network is full of women who are out there starting and expanding all kinds of businesses. It is amazing what some of them are doing, and inspirational to see what they are achieving. If you have a narrow view of what people can do to make money, then check out a (non-industry specific) networking group and be inspired!  

So find yourself a networking group and go along. Most have trial memberships so you can see if you are a good fit for the group. You could belong to one from your industry, but I would also recommend going to a broader one as it really opens your eyes as to what people are doing with their lives. 

Give it some time. I would recommend monthly for 6 months and then you will really start to connect with people. Remember to follow up with an email/ phone call or personalised note afterwards and build those relationships! 

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