The value of networking
According to US broadcasters ABC, 80% of jobs are landed through networking. It’s never been more important than it is in today’s economy and, once learnt, networking is a life skill which has many applications. With many professionals chasing the same career opportunities, valuable contacts can make all the difference.
Not only can networking create opportunities to share ideas and experiences, or to sell a product or service, without doubt it’s now a key tool to help you explore your next career move.
Work your network
Networking is all about developing long-term relationships for mutual gain and creating a lasting impression with people so that they think of you positively when an opportunity arises.
Even if you’re not actively seeking a new role, ensure you take time to nurture your network on a daily basis. Your career network should be in place for when you need it, both for job searching and for moving along the career ladder. Since you never know when you might need it, it makes sense to have an active career network, even if you don't need it today.
Don't just contact those who can help when you have just been laid-off from your job or decide you want to look for a new position. Keep in touch with your network regularly - even if it's just a brief email to say hello and to ask how they are doing. People are more willing to help when they know who you are.
Build your knowledge
Contacts can help you with more than physical job leads – the possibilities are endless. They can provide:
- Referrals to or insider information about companies you might be interested in working for
- Information on specific areas of the HR discipline you might want to explore
- Market intelligence on the job market in other parts of the country/globe
- Advice on where to look for jobs
- CV tips or interview advice.
If you can call upon your network for specialist knowledge, pursue new business leads, gather market intelligence, source new strategic alliances and raise the profile of your organisation in the process, you position yourself as a valuable employee.
Become an expert in your field
Spread your network widely. Start by networking externally with your HR peers. Develop the respect and value you are held in by your network by exchanging best practice knowledge, new HR methodologies, sourcing and exchanging inspiration for tackling challenges, benchmarking performance and so on. Be valuable.
Network externally with the wider business community; stay abreast of latest business news, do your own head-hunting/talent spotting, gain expertise and knowledge of competitor issues.
Don’t forget to network internally. Raise your profile, source new project opportunities, strengthen relationships with stakeholders and gather information on their HR requirements and seek out where you can add value.
Get face to face
Attending events enables you to network in person which is an excellent way to meet new people, enhance your communication skills and develop relationships. In order to be successful, you must attend events regularly so you can expand your contacts and nurture these relationships to develop a sense of trust.
Networking is synonymous with the term ‘working a room’ – however it is not about rapidly working your way through huge quantities of people, dishing out business cards in a desperate bid to make a ‘sale’. It takes time to develop a two-way dialogue and truly understand the needs of others and so results do not happen overnight.
When choosing which network to join, you need to consider your primary requirements - which should not overtly be to “gissa job”. Seek market information, expert advice, updates on legal and regulatory information or just meet likeminded people with whom to have an exchange of ideas or experiences.
For those not comfortable in social environments, networking events can seem daunting. However, for most, the benefits of taking an active role far outweigh potential concerns or reasons not to get involved.
Return the favour
Networking is very much a reciprocal exercise and not a one way street. If you come across an interesting article or a relevant job, share it with your network. The point of having a career network is to have resources who can help, but you should reciprocate, whenever you can.
So join a network today and start adding value to your career.
The London HR Connection
A well run network will provide an interesting and dynamic environment with interesting a relevant speakers to lead and spark discussion. The London HR Connection (www.londonhr.org) is a networking organisation that likes to encourage debate amongst the professional HR community with colourful speakers such as former HR specialist now turned politician, Lembit Opik, attending one of our events soon.
Other speakers lined up for this season include senior HR directors such as Tanith Dodge from M&S and Trevor Philips, chair of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.
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