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3rd Oct, 2022

Olivia Maguire
Olivia Maguire
Job Title
Content Marketing Lead

Humans are inherently social beings, and the connections we make in our lives, including family, friends, acquaintances, as well as professional connections, all play a part in our successes.

Professional networking is the act of making connections and building relationships with the intent of sharing knowledge, thoughts, and opening doors to new opportunities. Networking in your professional life can boost your confidence and help you progress your career. While some people are natural networkers, others may find the prospect daunting. However, networking is something that happens throughout your career, whether you are doing it consciously, or not.

The rise of professional social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, fundamentally changed the way people network, and when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, online networking became the new norm.

Importance of effective networking

Networking is a skill, and one that can be developed with practice and understanding. Learning to make the most of networking can reap rewards for your career. Here are some of the reasons why effective networking is important:

Opens new opportunities for work

Whether or not you are looking for a new job, having a great network of contacts can open doors to careers you may not have considered, or business partnerships that can help you in your current position. The age-old saying that ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ comes to mind, and having people you know in your industry can bring many exciting new opportunities.

Sharing knowledge

One of the ways that networking can help you progress your career is by sharing and exchanging information and knowledge about your industry. Having connections with the right people on social media platforms means you may see information shared that you may have previously missed. In addition, seeing how other people approach tasks in different environments can give you new ideas for different ways of working that are more effective or efficient. Remember, networking is a two-way street, so be prepared to share your own information and knowledge.

Benchmarking your progress

Having a network of professionals in a similar position to you can give you a good insight into how they have progressed their careers and may help you assess where you are currently at in your own career. Are you already progressing quicker than your peers or are you finding yourself falling behind? Either way, having this understanding can help you decide what to do next to progress and grow in your industry.

Building genuine friendships

It may feel cynical to talk about networking as purely a business transaction and what you can get out of each other, and while it may appear that way at first, building genuine friendships is important in navigating the world of work.

How to effectively network online

Networking face to face requires a very different set of skills to networking online. The rise of the digital age means that networking online has become much more prominent.

Here are some top tips for networking online:

  • Boost your online presence

The first step to networking online is to make sure you are online! Sharpen up your LinkedIn profile and join groups where like-minded professionals may be. Your online presence can also extend beyond just LinkedIn - join Facebook industry groups, Reddit, or Twitter if this is where your peers are.

  • Stay active

To build meaningful connections, you need to make sure you are posting on your social channels as often as possible, replying quickly to messages, sharing your thoughts or opinions on topical issues (however, make sure you keep this professional and try not to be overly controversial), and engage with others’ posts.

  • Be someone others want to connect with

Being proactive doesn’t mean messaging everyone you find with a similar job and hoping that you will form meaningful connections. And while it’s important to be regularly posting on your social channels, take it one step further and become a thought leader in your industry. Share your thoughts on the sector, upcoming changes to your industry, and make sure you are staying ahead of the curve. By thinking about what aspects of your role or industry you feel most passionate about and talking about them, you will appear more authentic and attract more connections. The more you do this, the more you will find new connections naturally come to you.

  • Attend virtual events

Actively seek out virtual meetups and online networking events as most other people attending will also be looking to network, share knowledge and connect with like-minded professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask for peoples LinkedIn or contact details and always follow up with a friendly message.

So, whether your goal is to find a new job, make more meaningful contacts in your sector, learn new ways of working, or progress your career, learning how to effectively network online is essential.

Are you looking for a new talented professional to join your team, our specialist recruitment consultants are on hand to help with all your recruitment needs. Contact your local office today.