How Networking Can Benefit Your Career

by on Dec 11 2012 - 23 Comments

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “it isn’t what you know, but who you know.” While having a relevant skill set is obviously a necessity in today’s economic environment, it’s also important to know the right people. Networking can help you hear about potential job opportunities, get an “in” at a company you want to work at, or benefit you in a number of other ways. Having someone personally refer you to a job can never hurt.

Attend Networking Events and Meetups

There’s pretty much an unlimited number of professional groups, networking groups, and meetups. Just to use me as an example, there are a number of meetup/networking groups that are relevant. They include the Young Professionals of Twin Cities, University of St. Thomas Young Alumni (which one of my friends actually heads), and Minnesota Personal Finance Bloggers. This really only covers three major meetup groups; there are many other groups that I could have mentioned for Minnesota alone.

While attending meetups takes more time and effort than some other networking strategies, you can often make more of an impression when you are meeting people in person versus online or through the phone.

Use Social Media

I have to first mention the most valuable social media website for networking: LinkedIn. Recruiters roam LinkedIn looking for potential candidates to fill jobs. Even if you don’t log in that often, simply having an account on LinkedIn may lead to some good connections with recruiters/headhunters in case you are ever looking for a new job. If you are active on the site, there are many groups that you can use for networking such as alumni networks, professional groups, or company pages.

For me, social media is all about potential; you never know who you will meet or who will come across your page. Three examples:

  • I got a side job during college from meeting someone through blogging. They owned a successful blog and hired me to do social media, marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO). Even though it has been years since I worked for the site, I still stay in touch with them today.

  • I met Brandy Green of Ghost Hunters International on Twitter, and she ended up doing an awesome interview on very short notice for this site.

  • Peter Anderson of Money Matters has been a great reference for me and I met him through another person I knew through social media.

I could go on and on about this topic, but the main point is that connecting with people on a social media platform can be easy; most people who are active on social media are looking to connect with a wide range of people and are very open to networking with others.

Never Discount Someone’s Network

One of the biggest mistakes people can make is discounting someone’s network. When we meet someone who doesn’t have a prestigious title or seem like they won’t be able to “help you out,” it can be natural to write off their network. This can be a huge mistake. You never know who they know, and you certainly can’t predict who they will connect with in the future. Approach everyone with humility and avoid the habit of only trying to meet those in your career field.

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Networking is certainly not the only way to find a job, but in some cases it can be the difference between landing a job or coming up just short. Beyond that, you never when a friend-of-a-friend is someone working at a company you want to work at. Leveraging your network is essential, so make it a priority to build good contacts and above all, have fun meeting others.

Do you network? How has networking benefited you?
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Photo by University of Exeter
 

23 comments
MoneyMasterMom
MoneyMasterMom

I went to my first conference (FINCON) as a blogger in Sept.  I was initially nervous about networking.  I soon discovered it`s easy a pie.  Especially when everyone else in the room loves their budget as much as you do.

NateFancher
NateFancher

I had another thought about this. Have you ever heard of Keith Ferrazzi? http://www.keithferrazzi.com/

 

He wrote a great book on networking called "Never Eat Alone". Fascinating...

AverageJoeMoney
AverageJoeMoney

I used to despise networking. Now I think it's awesome. Being able to learn about new people while sharing tips with each other leads to connections that I would have never had. 

NateFancher
NateFancher

Good post DC! I'm finding this to be true more and more these days. It's a noisy world and the ones who speak the loudest aren't always the ones who get heard. It's the ones who build relationships with a win-win mind-set.

 

I'm a singer/songwriter and it took me a while to get over the really immature attitude that us artsy folk have when it comes to stepping out and meeting people. There can be this strange sort of "false humility" that says networking is just sleezy self promotion. But I've recently found the opposite to be true (depending on motives).

 

When I meet a new person whether online, or at a gig I play, or anywhere, I want to add value to their lives and "selflessly promote them" (like the Yakezie slogan says). This only comes back around to me in the end anyway -- so it's win-win!

 

Thanks for the article. Keep it dude!

MakintheBacon
MakintheBacon

It's only now that I'm in my current career, I'm starting to network more. My work has sent me for off-site training several times and there I have met people who work in different departments and have gotten some advice on how to advance to certain positions. I've also learned what it was like work in certain positions. We also have an opportunity to job shadow someone for a day in a department we are interested in learning more about.  Unlike the other companies, I've worked for, I feel like this organization really wants to help you find your niche.

Thad P
Thad P

I think the last one about never discounting someone's network is really important.  You never know who is just one relationship away from you.  

DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

Networking is one of the best tools you can use.  It usually doesn't cost you anything, except for some time, but it can go a long way.  Any chance I get, I try to network with other people.  Everyone always think differently and I enjoy hearing different aspects.

TacklingOurDebt
TacklingOurDebt

Great post! When I owned a small decorating business I attended tons of networking meetings, especially with the large organization known as BNI. I actually have a post coming up about networking too :-). Anyways I use to always say what  you wrote above "You never know who they know".

 

I would watch people only interact at these meetings with certain people. They would target people that they assumed needed their product or service and ignore the rest. Big mistake!!

Ugifter
Ugifter

Great points.  I actually have a guest post I wrote coming up soon, on making use of your alumni association!  Too often, people think that you have to explicitly attend "networking" events in order to network, which is completely not true!

Jordann
Jordann

I hate networking(mostly because I'm shy), but with a marketing degree I completely understand that it's a necessary evil. Many of my jobs through university and the one I have now was secured through networking.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

Wow, you went to University of St. Thomas? My father in law went there as well as he's originally from Wayzata and the military took him to San Diego. It's a small world!  Anyway, great post, I could not agree more. So much of where you can go in your career really does come down to who you know. All it takes is one person, you never know who they'll be connected to.

GregatClubThrifty
GregatClubThrifty

The business that I currently work in is really a lot about networking. I belong to the local Rotary Club as well as a Chamber of Commerce. Everybody else in our office belongs to several groups as well. It is really how we build connections and bring people to our business.

SenseofCents
SenseofCents

I networked a lot when I was getting my MBA. It is great for the company and for future contacts.

MonsterPiggyBank
MonsterPiggyBank

I think who you know is by far the biggest determining factor in how successful you will be in your career. So many times someone is given a job or an opportunity simply because of a contact they have, rather than their actual ability to deliver.

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

 @TacklingOurDebt I was in BNI for a while as well. I made some great contacts including my rock star accountant who has saved me tons of money. I also found a great mechanic in addition to bringing in several new patients. Highly recommend networking groups!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Ugifter Looking forward to the guest post!  I also have to remember to go to your site this week and order my manager's gift...feel free to tweet me Thu or Fri asking if I've done it yet : )

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @Jordann I hate it too, I am an introvert and networking is draining.  Like you said it's a necessary evil, and can lead to jobs or other good outcomes.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @FrugalRules UST Grad! Absolutely!  Yeah it's definitely a small world.  I agree about the one person thing...I have a crazy story to share about how a string of chance interactions essentially got me into where I'm working.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @SenseofCents From what I understand that is one of the big pros of getting an MBA - you develop a good network of contacts you can go to in the future.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

 @MonsterPiggyBank It's crazy how much of an impact it has.  People who are good at it have a big advantage, though pretty much anyone can have a chance meeting that changes things.