A Complete Guide on How to Build a Network (Plus Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When looking for strategies to advance in your job, the first place to go is your network. Networking is a vital part of a successful professional career because it helps people to interact with others in their sector to learn about trends, open positions and other possibilities. Learning how to build a network can help you meet new professionals in your field who may help you succeed in your career. In this article, we discuss what a network is, explain why a network is important and provide some tips on how to build a network to help you start or advance your career.

Related: Why Is Networking Important and How to Start Networking

What is a network?

A professional network is a collection of individuals who have formed connections based on business experiences, similar interests, similar competence or other factors that link them in a professional sense. A network can consist of a group of people or a networking organisation within a certain business or subject. You may develop a network in a variety of places and ways, including networking gatherings, conventions, business luncheons, within your present organisation, on business-related social media sites, alumni association events, trade exhibitions, fundraising events and virtual networking events.

Related: What Are Some Common Career Development Goals Examples

How to build a network

Here are a few tips on how to build a network:

1. Search for people who can help you advance in your career

Make an effort to build a diverse personal network. Connecting with others who have similar backgrounds and experiences might be beneficial while looking for new job prospects. Connecting with people from radically diverse backgrounds might be beneficial when seeking new insights and guidance. Choose someone you admire and want to emulate. They may inspire you to do your best and work towards greater possibilities.

The key to networking is not so much the number of individuals you connect with as it is the quality of people you bring into your network. Seek out people that have the potential to make a difference in your profession. Building relationships with others in the business you work for and individuals who may be mentors to you, for instance, can be considerably more important than merely gathering phone numbers for people who may or may not be helpful to you.

Related: How to Build Relationships at Work in 7 Easy Steps

2. Look on the internet

To expand their network, an increasing number of professionals are using social media and professional networking sites. If you've been using social media for a long time, you probably already have individuals in your network with whom you can create relationships. Beginning your networking online also provides you access to so many more individuals in many more areas, enabling you to connect with people you might not have met otherwise.

3. Request contacts from your current network

If you presently work in an office and have connections with your coworkers, you might enquire about their networks and whether they can link you with people in your sector. This is an excellent technique to meet new individuals since you have the benefit of an introduction from someone who is already familiar with you and your professional accomplishments. Be mindful that you've got to give and take in every mutually productive relationship. If one of your connections is in need of assistance, check if you can aid them. Your connections may be helpful in return if you're also kind.

4. Examine your passions

Take some time when you first start networking to figure out what you're actually enthusiastic about, even if it's not in the field you presently work in. Consider joining a networking organisation of mental health professionals if you work in finance but have a love for mental health. This can help you obtain more insight into that field and maybe land a job there if and when you're ready for a career shift.

5. Be willing to assist initially

Networking is all about giving and receiving. Most individuals network to meet people who can assist them in advancing in their careers or businesses. When you're new to networking, it's crucial to be the first to help someone else, rather than merely expecting people to help you. The more you help others, the more likely they may step forward to help you.

6. Provide value to your connections

It's critical to offer value to your connections when networking with others. For instance, if you're reaching out to a new individual to build a professional relationship, do some research on them first, so you know what they do and what they stand for. This enables you to find any areas in which you may provide value to their work life, which may significantly improve the overall quality of your interactions.

7. Attend networking events

Attending networking events is an excellent way to meet new people and develop important professional connections. Seek out networking opportunities in your sector, area or preferred career path. Business seminars, networking events, professional association events, conferences and networking clubs are just a few examples of networking events. Don't feel down if you go to one event and don't find somebody to connect with. There are several networking events available, so keep attending various ones until you discover one that best matches your needs.

Bring some business cards with you when you go to networking events. This allows you to simply exchange contact information with folks you meet. Make sure to follow up with them through email after the event. Tell them you had a good time talking with them and would want to continue the conversation over lunch or coffee. By being a little daring, you can develop some valuable contacts that could help your career.

Related: What Is a Networking Event? (With Types and Importance)

8. Create an Internet presence

Creating an online presence on professional networking sites is a terrific method to create relationships. Maintaining an up-to-date profile that includes all of your experience, hobbies, education and qualifications can help you attract like-minded people and may even grab the notice of recruiters. Creating a network online can be just as beneficial as doing so in person, leading to new career opportunities and advancement.

9. Maintain current knowledge in the company you work for and the sector

Staying current on the newest developments in your sector or area can allow you to bring value to the contacts you develop through networking. Attend industry events, stay up to date on new technology and trends in your area and educate yourself on the most popular components of your industry. The more value you can add to a conversation, the more likely you are to attract quality people to join your network.

10. Share your objectives

Make your professional ambitions clear to your network. This way, if they see a relevant opportunity, they're much more likely to think of you. You can share your vision on social media or when you're meeting with your contacts when you share your ambitions, attempt to learn about theirs as well. You could discover that you can assist them in achieving their objectives.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition, Template and Examples

11. Concentrate on meaningful connections

Establishing long-term professional relationships can be time-consuming. If you build a rapport and a strong connection with a peer, you're more likely to keep that friendship going in the long run, which may benefit both of you. Make time to nurture your existing professional connections while also pursuing new ones.

Different types of networking groups

You may widen your professional relationships by joining several sorts of networking clubs. The following are the most frequent forms of networking groups:

  • Professional organisations: Many sectors have professional associations that enable people to interact with others and expand their contact base within that area. These affiliations can be useful to obtain clients and increase the visibility of a company's services or products.

  • Online groups: These are online groups that unite like-minded persons to create professional contacts. For instance, you may join a graphic designer online networking club to meet other designers and learn about prospective market prospects.

  • Strong contact groups: These sorts of networking organisations normally enable one person per profession to join and are useful to generate business recommendations. Strong contact groups are sometimes quite exclusive and difficult to join.

  • Casual contact groups: Professionals form this sort of network casually, with people from various industries convening to create connections and extend their professional contacts.

  • Community service clubs: This form of networking group primarily delivers community service, but it can serve you well professionally to develop such long-term ties.

Why is it important to build a network?

Developing a professional network has various advantages. Networking is significant for a variety of reasons, including:

  • connecting you with potential clients

  • assisting you in identifying opportunities for professional growth

  • providing you with a group of experts in a specific field

  • allowing you to gain useful knowledge and advice within your industry

  • generating business referrals

  • assisting you in staying on top of the latest trends within your field or industry

  • providing you with opportunities to gain professional mentors and contacts

  • learning about open positions

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