Some people seem to get great career opportunities out of nowhere. But how do they do it? The secret is often: networking. Networking is about building and maintaining relationships. The aim is to make valuable contacts that can help you on your career path. Because it is often not only professional qualifications, but also personal networks of relationships that are decisive when it comes to a job. We show how you can learn to network in order to find and organize the right contacts.
Networking – The most important things at a glance
A stable network is just as important for starting out in professional life as it is for future career opportunities. The network is based on personal connections intended to serve professional purposes.
Networks can be formed for business or personal reasons. In networks at work, the connections are often so close that the transition to private life is fluid. In this case, professional background plays a marginal role.
The establishment of useful connections should be carefully planned. Networking events are good opportunities to gather information about the new job. Once you have made your choice, you get in touch. Getting to know each other serves as orientation. After the interview, the participants can assess more precisely whether they can imagine a long-term cooperation.
Just making contact is not enough. Applicants should allow enough time for the entire networking process. This is a great way to get to know new people in the industry and build long-term relationships with them.
It is the same with professional contacts as with private acquaintances – the relationships need to be cultivated. The mutual exchange should take place regularly. It is precious for everyone involved. You can use the personal conversation to expand your cross-industry knowledge with interesting new insights.
What actually is Networking?
Networking is a strategic and effective way to properly build professional contacts. These connections are companies or individuals. Employees and network partners use personal discussions in their own interest. Maintaining connections can result in close friendships in which the work-related context becomes secondary over time.
Valuable networks can be established not only in the work-related but also in the private sphere. Events such as celebrations or a change of residence can be organized more easily together. An everyday description of private connections is: ‘What one cannot do, the other can do’.
This mutual relationship needs to be nurtured in the same way as connections at work. Both sides must want to invest time in the network, and not too little. Only then do personal connections become successful partnerships that often last a lifetime and are a constant throughout professional life.
Also Read: The 5 Most Requested Freelance Professions
How does Successful Networking work?
Similar to knotting a net out of woolen threads, professional networks also depend on precise planning. In addition to the selection and establishment of contacts, maintaining the network is crucial. Contacts must be cultivated in order to be able to develop into lasting relationships for all those involved .
Before you network, you should be clear about the goal. Is it about looking for business contacts with specific companies? Or is the focus on events and lectures organized by your personal connections?
After the goal has been formulated, the search for the relevant nodes is on. These can be company websites, job fairs or private individuals who can provide useful contacts.
The next step is to get in touch. Depending on the type of network, getting to know each other properly takes place in a personal meeting or in an online forum. During the initial contact, both parties have the opportunity to introduce themselves and tell more about their careers. At the same time, goals already achieved and plans for the future can be discussed.
Maintaining relationships is at the heart of such networks. Long-term connections cannot be made without motivation and initiative. The network partners can, for example, arrange regular meetings where they exchange ideas and talk about their successes and challenges.
There are Different Types of Networking
Various factors play a role in the establishment of networks. On the one hand, it is important to choose the right form that suits the personality and motives of the individual. On the other hand, it is important to find the appropriate type of networking for the desired or practiced profession. One way to meet potential contacts is to have short conversations at networking events or conferences where you can make a good impression. But a friendly contact via e-mail or social media can also be the beginning of a successful network development. It is important to remain authentic and to get to a personal level.
Events or Social Media: Platforms for building Networks
Networks can span multiple meta-levels. There are many people who can be considered potential network partners, including business partners, industry acquaintances or former colleagues. Members of job board chat forums may also belong to this group.
Each of these contacts can be of varying degrees of benefit to individuals. Maintaining contacts in the forum can be used, for example, to obtain general information about the industry or profession. The face-to-face interview, on the other hand, is a meeting that focuses on the participants as employees. Therefore, the dependency ratio is larger in this type of network.
The network partners can support each other as speakers and advocates in the search for new positions. An experienced partner can act as a mentor, especially for young professionals. However, it’s important to choose the right type of networking for the job at hand, while remaining authentic. Short conversations at networking events or conferences can make a good impression. Exchanging business cards and exploring common interests can also be a first step in getting to know someone.
If a young professional is involved in the network, the options for network design can be limited. The reason for this is often the lack of professional experience. Nevertheless, a career starter can contribute to the success of networking by making appointments for short exchanges, bringing in ideas and keeping contacts alive in this way. Successful networking takes time and commitment, but it can be an important key to success and a clear marker of one’s career development.
The Goal: What does Networking bring?
Building and maintaining relationships in the professional world can bring numerous benefits. Through regular dialogue with other people, you can expand your professional network and thus discover new opportunities. If you’ve been in an industry for a long time, it can happen that you’re stuck in a dead end and don’t see any new perspectives. Communicating with other people can help break new ground and advance your own career.
It’s important to show that you have something to offer, not just a pleading hand. If you have interesting projects or ideas, you can present them to other people and thus prove your added value. You can also help other people and, for example, pass on connections or tips to them. By helping other people, you build trust and are perceived as a useful contact.
A well-maintained network can also help you in difficult times. For example, if you lose your job, you can fall back on contacts who will support you in your job search. You should also regularly find out from the industry which companies are currently looking for new employees.
Networking is the first measure of success. Don’t be afraid to approach others and show yourself. By helping other people and supporting each other, you can expand your professional environment and thus advance your career. Every business card you receive along the way can completely change your life. You should always keep that in mind.
Make Contacts: How can you learn to Network?
Good networking requires a certain amount of planning and commitment to ensure mutual benefits and support. Key steps include identifying people or organizations that fit your goals, introducing them and getting to know them, sharing information and resources, and staying in touch regularly. You have to stay authentic and not just look for short-term benefits. Networking requires openness, patience and perseverance, but the investments can pay off in the long run and promote personal and business success. The attitude of a good network should be friendly and authentic. Helpfulness, patience and gratitude are also important elements.
When building a network, it is crucial to have clarity about your own needs and goals. In the case of conferences or lectures, it is worth considering in advance who could be represented there and what potentially interesting positions or projects there are. When networking, it is important not only to talk about yourself. Active listening and a calm assessment of the situation play an important role in order to find the right answers and formulate precise questions.
Networking should not only take place at large events, but also in everyday life, for example when spending free time with friends or colleagues. The best networks can emerge and grow from all sorts of situations.
Imagine you’re at a friend’s birthday party and you’re meeting new people. During the evening you strike up a conversation with a person who tells you that they work in the same industry as you and are currently looking for a new job. You talk about your experiences and challenges in your respective job and realize that you have things in common. They exchange contact details and agree to meet for coffee next week to talk further. At the meeting, the person tells you about a company that is currently hiring in your field and recommends that you apply.
You attend a conference in your field and take part in a workshop where various companies present their latest projects. After the workshop, a company representative will approach you and ask for your opinion on a specific topic. You strike up a conversation and realize that you both have had similar experiences in your career. They exchange contact details and arrange to meet up the next day to learn more about the company’s work. At the meeting, the representative will tell you about a vacancy in his company for which he is currently recruiting suitable candidates. He recommends that you apply for the position and offers to help you with your application.
Important Tips: Proper Networking is a give and take
Good networking is not only based on personal benefits, but also on the willingness to help others. A successful network requires a mutual give and take based on common goals. It’s important to be open, honest, and interested in others by actively helping and offering support.
A good networker looks not only for career opportunities, but also for how they can be useful to others. Helping others connect or promote their work builds trust and connections. “Giving” is an important part of the process and should be the focus. Only in this way is the counterpart also encouraged to give.
A strong relationship network requires time, energy, patience and commitment. You have to be willing to engage in dialogue with others. Even with initial difficulties, it is possible to ensure a positive connection through tact and attention to body language and topics.
The goal of networking is not just to pass on business cards, but to establish and maintain real relationships. It’s important to take the initiative and reach out to others, but also being careful not to be pushy. Events and seminars offer an excellent opportunity for informal small talk.
Once a connection is made, don’t hesitate to help others where you can. This can be done, for example, by arranging contacts or by providing support when looking for a job. Helping others will usually reciprocate, leading to a win-win situation. Networking can thus become an important career driver.
Avoid Mistakes: No-gos when Networking
Before building long-term connections, it is advisable to do intensive research. Websites, social media profiles or business cards from reputable companies contain complete contact details, such as the email address of the contact person and the company’s website.
The quality of the connections is more important than the quantity. Too many industry contacts can become confusing and lose sight of the goal. It is advisable to choose a few but valuable partners with whom you can exchange ideas on a regular basis.
Personal communication is more meaningful than anonymous websites. It is advisable to send contact requests by email. If there is interest, at least a short call is suggested. In the meantime, this is even more common than a real meeting on site.
Common goals are an indispensable basis for successful relationships. When building sustainable networks, it is important to select members in a targeted manner. Check your list of acquaintances regularly and always keep them up to date.