The Importance of Networking (Part 1 of the Networking Playbook)

I don’t need to remind you. You’ve heard it dozens of times. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Most people would agree that networking is important, but we often forget about why. Part one of this six part blog series is a reminder of that, but before we discuss the importance, let’s talk about something a little more provoking: why we hate networking.

You know the situation all too well. At the time, you were excited. You’ve been meaning to get out and meet some other professionals in your industry so you RSVP’d for next week’s Tuesday night association mixer. That was last Thursday. Now it’s Tuesday at 3:45pm. All that really stands between you and your couch, a bowl of leftover pasta, and the next episode of Friends is 45 minutes of work and your commute home.

You’re starting to convince yourself of all the reasons why it is no longer necessary to drag your exhausted body to that mixer.

  • “Introducing myself to a room full of strangers sounds more stressful than fun.”
  • “Those events always feel forced and sales-y with people just shoving business cards at each other.”
  • “I’m not going to stand around and make small talk for two hours.”
  • “The event is 15 minutes in the opposite direction from home. That’s such a time suck.”

Over the next 45 minutes, you begin building resentment for signing up in the first place and when the decision comes, you turn right…heading west back to the comfort of your home.

I have a feeling most of us will find this story all too familiar. I know I sure do. I’m not going to lie, networking is exhausting, it’s uncomfortable, and yes, it does steal time away from other activities. Yet, we know the hook that comes next. Networking is important.

It’s no surprise that the most connected people are often the most successful. Those who spend the time and effort into forging and maintaining strong relationships will have a leg up in all areas of their life.

In your career, networking will help to stay up to date on the latest trends, keep a pulse on the job market, develop an area of expertise, increase visibility with leadership, and connect with prospective mentors, partners, and clients.

If you can’t get excited about the benefits that networking will provide your career, think about the benefits it could provide outside of that. Your friend’s event next week? The girl of your dreams could be there! Remember when you went and introduced yourself to your new neighbor a few weeks ago? You need a table saw for a home renovation project and now you happen to know someone who has one.

Finally, of course, the most rewarding payoff is the opportunity to help someone you know. This could be knowing the introduction that leads your partner to their next job, playing dating coach for your best friend, or saving your neighbor’s day (and his marriage) when he needs three tablespoons of butter for Charlie’s birthday cake (after erroneously overlooking it on the grocery list).

Remember, the currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity. This blog series is dedicated to helping you become better at connecting with new people, getting you excited about the uncomfortable, and making networking your competitive advantage. Stay tuned!

Don’t miss out on the rest of the series on networking, subscribe to my blog announcements here.

The Networking Playbook:

  • Mastering Professional Networking Events (coming very soon)
  • How to Be a Great Conversationalist (coming soon)
  • Make Networking a Habit (coming soonish)
  • Staying Connected with Your Network (coming after soonish)
  • Networking for Job Seekers (it will come)

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