• Have you ever contacted a friend, family member, or coworker asking about a job opportunity?

  • Have you ever used LinkedIn before to connect with someone?

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If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then you have used your network.

Networking involves connecting with others and building relationships. Professional networks are your connections within or outside your industry. Benefits include:

  1. Career Opportunities

  2. Personal References

  3. People Skills

Career Opportunities

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Situation:

You notice a new position at a company and remember that your former coworker, Taylor, works there now. You decide to contact Taylor to inquire about the position and ask him to provide a positive reference.

Result:

By reaching out to Taylor you have:

  1. Obtained insider knowledge

  2. Received a reference from a current employee

  3. Gained an edge over other candidates

Asking individuals in your network about job opportunities is a great way to use your connections and learn more about the company before you apply.

Beyond getting a new job, your network is a great way to find opportunities for:

  • Mentorship

  • Discussing industry trends

  • Knowledge sharing

  • Informational interviews

Quiz

You are interested in learning more about the media industry but do not have any current connections. What would be an effective way of growing your professional network?

Personal Referrals

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You moved to another city for a job opportunity. You started building your professional network with coworkers and individuals in your industry. One day, you were looking for a restaurant that had vegan and vegetarian options and started talking to a coworker about it. Your coworker told you about a new restaurant they found.

What happened?

You received a referral from one of your coworkers but this was not related to your career. Sure, you could have searched online, read reviews, and went to a restaurant but your coworker provided you with insight without you even looking.

What now?

The result (referral for a restaurant) sounds familiar to sharing career opportunities (referral for a job). As you build relationships with your professional network, you may ask for their insight on personal and professional topics. It all depends on your comfort level.

Consider: You could ask for a personal referral to find a relatable personal trainer or a reliable childcare provider.

People Skills

People skills are the behaviors or patterns you have when engaging with others such as:

  • Verbal and nonverbal communication

  • Working effectively in teams

  • Building and cultivating trust

As you learn from the spectrum of positive and negative experiences with others, you can intentionally work on your people skills. As you build these skills, you'll find it easier to grow and use your network.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Quiz

Which activity would be the most effective method for connecting with people you interacted with on social media?

Take Action

Now that you are aware of three benefits to professional networking, it is a perfect opportunity for you to start building your network.

Take this time to:

  • Talk with your coworker

  • Reconnect with a professional you met at a conference or social event

  • Create that LinkedIn account

Make these connections now and you'll be able to reap the benefits when you need it!

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This Byte has been authored by

TG

Terrian Garvis

Anime Lover, Self Care Motivator, & Educator