Updated: Dec 20, 2020
"It true! it may not be what you know, but who you know, networking is critical in helping you secure a job but many do underestimate the value of knowing others when building their career."
By: Allan R. Kirby
The importance of building a great network
If there is one thing I have learned over my career is the importance of building a great network of people to help me build my career and reach my goals. It's too bad I did not understand the importance of networking or how to develop a good network early in my career. I only began to see how critical networking is much later but it proved critical when I needed help.
It might be surprising to know that 70% to 80% of all jobs available are hidden from the public. This is an incredible percentage of jobs that are available but hidden from most people's view. Clearly many employers end up hiring through networks instead of posting the jobs online. The percentages may seem high but for me, it makes sense after I have been on the other side of the hiring process.
My first experience in hiring was not a good one. I was required to go through hundreds of resumes just to find a few candidates to hire. This was a daunting task and one that I never did again. I found it much easier just to ask other employees through their network about the availability of qualified candidates. Basically, if an employee or hiring manager in an organization has someone they know from their network, who can meet most of the skill criteria, why not just hire that person. This is what in fact does happen and I have seen this played out time and time again.
What is the importance of networking? Networking is fast becoming a critical component of career development and professional success. A good network can help with finding better Job opportunities and higher pay along with career advancements and other opportunities.
Networking is vital to your career
The reality is that you do need to have an active network from the day you start your career and ideally you should be working on your network while you are still in school. However, many professionals only try and start a network after losing their job or after graduating from university. Additionally, as you build your network you still need to keep it active throughout your career.
Your network can include everyone from family and friends to work colleagues, business connections, and possibly people from your social network. Keep in mind you do need to be careful with your network. If someone within your network starts to post things that are highly politicalized, discriminatory, or make inflamed comments on your social media feeds, be careful. These posts could be picked up by your employer and others in your network, it could look unprofessional and reflect badly on you, it could even affect your career. Most professionals that I work with are very careful with the people they have in their network. They do not want to be affected by a "Bad Apple" in their network that could hurt their ability to get a job. So you not only need to be careful with your own views but those of your network as well.
"How can social media affect you getting a job? Many employers do check social networks; Politicalized, Discriminitory and Inflamatory comments on your feeds will affect your ability to get a job."
Here are some benefits of networking
1. Helps you gain access to hidden job opportunities
As I had mentioned earlier, most jobs are not advertised to the public and are normally filled through mutual connections through networking Therefore by building a good network, could help you find the right contacts that will help open doors to many new opportunities. People are always willing to help and someone in your network might advise you of a possible opportunity that you might not have known about.
Additionally, the ability to move up the corporate ladder today is much different than in past years. I believe that more often than not you may need to leave your job to obtain a higher-level position as well as obtain a better salary. Your network could help you find those golden opportunities and allow you to continually build on your career.
2. Get career advice and support
Yes, this is very true, I have had a few bumps in my career and there is nothing more important than getting support and advice from others who work in the field. Good well-intentioned peers are always willing to help someone out when they need advice or support, For example, I had a small network built up when I was faced with a job loss later in my career. I found my network to be indispensable during this period of time and was given some incredible and genuine help. The great advice helped lay the foundations of my second and much more successful career. The advice and support I received would never have been possible without my network.
Additionally, along with the great advice and support I have received, I have also learned a lot from others who work in my field. It has been great to get some really good industry-specific advice such as training and coaching that has allowed me to continually improve my skills.
3. Helps with your mental wellbeing and build confidence
I saved the best for last; the group of people I have within my network have been invaluable to my mental wellbeing as well as building my confidence. For example, when I had some work-related issues I was able to leverage my network to help guide me through some rough times. I gained invaluable insight into how to correct my situation while also building my confidence up and learning how to deal with tough situations.
How to start building your network
Understanding the reasons why a network is an important first step, the hard part is actually getting out there building a great network. I have three ideas to help you get started. Keep in mind it can take time but you do need to actually try and make connections and build your network.
Talk with Coworkers and Contractors
To network, you need to talk to people, socialize, and get to know them. I can tell you that doing your work and never engaging with coworkers and contractors is a missed opportunity. Interestingly in larger organizations where you have both contractors as well as full-time staff, some people chose not to connect with contractors. I would disagree with that because some of my best connections today are with contractors who have moved from one employer to another. They themselves normally have incredible networks of like-minded contractors who all tend to help each other find the best jobs.
Network on forums and LinkedIn
When I mean network, that means actually trying to communicate with others such as by sending messages and getting involved in forums and even posting on LinkedIn. The principle idea is simple, you need to actually attempt to discuss and share your expertise with others. I have had two opportunities come up as a result of being active in several forums and messaging others. I have yet to have any really good offers come my way just by doing nothing. I found I need to be active with others to get my name out there and to keep on-going contact with others.
I have made a few really good connections through my volunteer work and helping out at kids sporting events. Now the principal idea of volunteering is to give back to the community nevertheless I have still been able to meet a number of my connections through volunteering. I really like making a connection when volunteering because it's normally a lot more relaxed and not intense, It a great way to see how people conduct themselves outside of a work setting. I in turn have helped far more people out through my volunteer work than people helping me, but that's ok, the connections will help me out at some point.
I can only advise you of the benefits of building a network, it's ultimately up to you to try and build one. Having a great network has helped me rebuild my career and kept me sain over the years and my only retreat is not building a network early in my career. My only suggestion is to be careful and ensure you do not build a network of people who are highly politicalized and write discriminatory, or make inflamed comments on your social media feeds and Linkedin network, this could turn out bad for you and affect your career for the wrong reasons.
Good luck and hopefully this article was helpful to you!
This is a MySmallBank.com blog written by Allan Kirby, who writes and produces Personal Finance and Money Management articles and videos.