If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb
We have heard it often enough. It is not what you know but who you know that matters. In work, as in life, building relationships can be the key to success. In fact more often than not, it is. Professional networking is one of the most effective tools you can use to build your career. While it is important to establish these relationships through networking, one must aim towards building long-term meaningful connections to improve job mobility. Monster.com exemplifies Better Access, Better Connection for Better Jobs.
In his book Tribes, Seth Godin says that – a group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.- Creating a strong professional network requires the same thing – finding the right people who share your passions and the right medium to connect with them. One of the best ways to do this is by joining relevant groups, communities and networks which are frequented by people with interests and ambitions similar to yours. Check out alumni from your old university, ex-employees, those you have partnered and collaborated with in the past. People with shared passions tend to breed new ideas and perspectives and this is a great environment to learn and grow.
Often people tend to start networking when they are looking for a new job. Informal interactions can be a key to this as these serve to create a reciprocal relationship – one where each party is likely to benefit in some way. Professional Networking establishes professional connections which lead to enhancing your job prospects. When you take the time to build and nurture strong connections, these are more likely to create a meaningful impact on your career graph.
When it comes to moving further up the success ladder, it has a lot to do with knowing the right people. For example, a global healthcare firm is looking to invest wants to employ someone to conduct market research before making the decision. You might be the analyst they are looking for. Or a sports agency is looking for sponsorships for a new tournament and you are just the right mix of business and game to crack the project open for them? These are opportunities which you will not find confined within your own work circle.
Building those relevant and meaningful contacts is a crucial step towards finding new prospects. It is not only helpful in reaching out to the right person when looking for a change in job but can also serve to recognise different windows of opportunity. When you create connections with similar people, it is easier to discover career prospects that may not have been evident earlier. Maybe your language proficiencies make you suitable for a role in another country? Or your years of experience can be complemented by a certificate in digital training? These are answers you can find through reliable professional contacts.
Malcolm Gladwell puts it well in his acclaimed bestseller – The Tipping Point- when he talks about Connectors – people who have a knack for making friends and usually lie at the heart of dense networks, introducing and creating new connections. So take the time out to build these contacts and you may find a whole new career perspective.