Why You Must Become a Networker

October 30th, 2012
Amanda M. Lawrence wants you to re-think your networking.

At a time when there could be 700 people applying for one job, it is more important than ever to have a connection on the inside. You might be thinking ‘but I’m happy in my current role, why do I need to build my network?’ The answer is: if you are ever looking to advance your career, even within your own company, you need to network.

Think back to the last three roles that you have held. In how many of those situations did you know someone who helped you get the job by providing you with notice about the open position, information about the work environment or job function, or a recommendation?

One of the most common mistakes people make when networking is thinking ‘what can this person do for me?’ You wouldn’t walk into a coffee shop and ask a complete stranger to help you with a business issue, so why would you do the same to someone you met at a networking event? Instead, think about what you might be able to do for the next person you meet. It could be as simple as giving them a recommendation to a reliable business, or making an introduction to another contact that can help them solve a problem.

The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.Reciprocity is one of the fundamental principles of social psychology. If you help someone, even in a small way, they are more likely to respond in kind, even if they have nothing to gain from the action. It is somewhat similar to the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy, but if you are open to helping others using the business acumen and contacts that you already have, you are well on your way to creating a strong and vital network.

We are all busy these days. It may seem like adding ‘networking’ to your to-do list will push you over the edge, but you can multi-task. Consider networking at events of industry or job-function organizations that you already attend. Other great opportunities to network:

  • Professional development opportunities
  • Department or company-wide events
  • Being a mentor or being mentored

Takeaway: Don’t start networking when you are looking for a job, begin to cultivate relationships while you are happy and productive in your current role, and start by helping someone else out, first.

Get Connected
W.P. Carey School of Business

This story, written by Amanda M. Lawrence, manager of marketing and enrollment for the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, is part of the Chamber's monthly Businesswise for Women email newsletter. To sign up for any or all of the Chamber's email communications, click here.

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