The importance of networking
With the number of conferences, seminars, and workshops that are available, it’s never been easier to meet other design professionals and share your experiences with them.
Networking is almost always advertised as a benefit of attending these events, and it’s constantly recommended for those who want to succeed – so here’s why.
Investing in relationships can pay off immensely when it comes to hearing about new opportunities. Many job positions and contracts are never advertised: they’re filled by recommendations and word-of-mouth. In fact, CV Library published a white paper which found that almost 35% of potential job candidates came through employee referral schemes.
This is where having a strong network can really help you. If you know a lot of people in different parts of the sector, you’ll find it easier to keep up to date with what’s going on and what opportunities are coming up for you. Even more importantly, if someone asks one of your contacts for a recommendation, your name could be on their list before you even know about it.
Earlier this year, LinkedIn introduced a new feature called Ask for a Referral based on their research, which showed that the most common way people find a job was through somebody they knew. In addition, almost half of the recruiters they asked said that their best hires came through referrals – so the more people who can put in a good word for you, the better.
Knowledge makes you stronger
Change happens fast, particularly in our digital age where technological advances are transforming every part of our lives. By maintaining relationships, you’ll quickly hear about new trends and developments in the sector. An infographic by Editorial Intelligence and Professor Julia Hobsbawn showed that almost a third of managerial level workers networked to expand their knowledge of their field.
On top of that, there’s always a lot to be gained by sharing experiences with others: understanding lots of different perspectives will help you to tackle future challenges. Professor Hobsbawm also put creating a list of information sources and making sure you can demonstrate your knowledge in her top five tips for career success.
It’s also much easier to ask for advice from people that you already know and trust. Use this to grow and develop your own practice, and never underestimate how much you can learn from other people!
It doesn’t have to be hard
One of the mistakes people can make when networking is to only think of how other people can benefit you professionally and treat interactions as a challenge. A better way to approach networking is to see who shares your interests and make friends with them first. Find people who you’d like to know regardless of their career, and you’ll find that this often leads to a much more genuine connection.
You could also explore lots of your existing social groups to find new opportunities, such as your friends from university, family members, or even your current colleagues. Internal networking is just as important as external networking: it can help you to find better ways of working in your department or team, or start new collaborations. Plus, if you don’t feel that you’d be comfortable attending a networking event, starting with the people you already know could make it feel a lot easier. There’s a lot more about the benefits of internal networking in this article from Experteer.
Think of networking as finding friends as well as professional contacts, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.
The end goal of successful networking is to strengthen your professional position, develop your expertise, and give you more interesting opportunities. In short, it puts you in control of your future. That’s why we keep our calendar updated, so you can find events to take part in and meet other people in your field: it can do wonders for your career.