Why You Should Think About Networking in a New Way, and Put it to Good Use

By Sam Ast, Re-Entry Workforce Development Specialist, Goodwill of Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas

Networking is just another term for the kinds of social interactions that most of us carry out daily. Among other things, it involves communicating, listening and strategizing. Networking does not always have to be about looking for a job, as it is essential for every member of society to constantly be sharing, collaborating, and learning even if not work-related. Participating in these activities means you are engaging in the process of networking. However, the term is most often associated with doing these very same things specifically for the purposes of career attainment, elevation and advancement.

When you think about networking, just think about intentional outreach efforts and going out of your way to meet others and form new professional relationships. Doing these things is not only about exposure or popularity, but also crucial for sharing knowledge and making processes more efficient between internal and external players. For example, a non-profit that caters to vulnerable populations might benefit from having contacts at the local food banks or homeless shelters. Networking as a tool to find work is a great idea, but it is also helpful to remember that once working you can continue to use the same practices to interact with colleagues at work functions as well as with outside organizations to maintain positive communication and workflow.

There is much data to back up the idea that networking leads to better career opportunities, but it is almost intuitive that if you know people who can put in a good word about you to supervisors and hiring managers, the probability of you getting hired increases. Additionally, it’s helpful to keep in mind all the information you could glean from those you know with the knowledge and the experience to help you learn and improve.

When implementing a network plan, there should be a method to your actions. Target your outreach efforts to those who share your interests and be strategic about who can help you achieve a particular set of goals or plans. It is more natural to converse with people if you’re sure of what you need and are interested in they have to share. If you’re authentic, these potential connections should have no problem spending some time with you, sharing insights or perhaps even becoming a mentor to you. The value of this cannot be overstated. While it is important to retain your independence while making career moves, it is equally important to develop contacts and to learn from those who have previously accomplished similar tasks.

As always, good luck in your career journey. Utilizing these suggestions will help to strengthen your position in the workforce and increase your base of knowledge. Check out this blog again throughout the coming months for more career and job advice.