Ever wonder why you should attend job fairs, meetups, speakers or similar events? It’s because networking is a vital part of career development. Networking, at its core, is meeting with people and establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Networking is also a relatively cheap opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. If you attend the right events, you will find that there are many people that you can learn from and work with.
Prepare for your big face to face interview
Networking requires you to get out of your comfort zone and engage in conversation. Think of it as preparation for a high-pressure, in-person interview. Some of the same questions an interviewer may ask you will most likely be topics of conversation at these events.
Thinking and responding on your feet, especially in an interview, can create a huge sense of anxiety and nervousness. But practice makes perfect! Practicing your responses to these questions, while networking, can calm those nerves and sharpen your public speaking skills.
Broaden your scope
Networking events that are relevant to your field are an awesome opportunity to gather more information. You are, after all, a product of your environment!
Even if you are well seasoned in your field, networking can aid you in thinking about topics and or industry issues from a different perspective. You may find that some networking events promote a learning atmosphere. Other events are a more social setting of mingling with people. Both, undoubtedly, can broaden your scope.
Related read: Job Inquiry Letters and How to Send Them (Examples)
Networking to increase your chances for future opportunities
You never know who will be at these networking events. CEOs, Presidents, Senior Level Staff etc. They can all attend networking events, and you would be surprised at how many of them do attend these events.
Which brings me to my next point. Networking increases your chances of meeting and connecting with people who can offer you better opportunities for your professional career.
Say you attend five networking events, and during one of those events you stumble across an incredibly thought provoking conversation that leads to an introduction to a CEO or VP. While four out of the five events did not produce a goldmine encounter, that one-in-five chance is worth the casual introduction and possible connection, trust me. May the odds be ever in your favor!
The more you love your own decisions and ideas, the less you need others to love and accept them for you. For the young professional, building confidence when the majority of the workforce supersedes you in age, experience or skills can be difficult.
Networking, as mentioned above, allows us to break out of our comfort zone, both socially and intellectually. It’s one thing to be comfortable in social situations, it’s another to be comfortable being social about the skills, topics and day-to-day operations required to work in your industry.
Say, for instance, you are a social person, but find that you encounter some difficulty when it comes to engaging in fruitful conversations that focus on your industry. Networking is a great opportunity to build up a knowledge base in a social setting.
On the flip side: Say you are not a social person, but you know a ton about your industry. Networking is perfect for easing into a social setting where you have more than enough material to participate in.
Extend your contact lists
It’s 2017, only having one mode of communication, i.e. a phone number, is rare.
With all the professional social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, various industry platforms etc., it is simple and easy to connect with someone over the internet. But meeting them first makes it even easier!
First, networking is a prime method to increase the number of connections you have. Second, networking is a great way to connect in multiple ways with people who share or have beneficial information for you. It may, after all, be convenient for you to simply pick up your phone and call a person, but it might be more convenient for others to send a quick email or LinkedIn message rather than call. Maximize your reach!
Networking provides you with great opportunities to open doors, make connections, and learn. It increases your chances of meeting highly influential people who would otherwise not be easy to talk to or find. It’s important to consider networking when working or seeking employment opportunities. It truly never hurts to stay one step ahead of the game.
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This article was originally posted in 2017 by a former Zipjob blog contributor and has been updated to reflect our current editorial standards.