Professional networking is a powerful tool for aspiring leaders and professionals at all levels. Developing a diverse professional circle has proven to be a goldmine of mentorship, collaboration, and resources you can tap into throughout your career. Harvard Business Review has discovered a correlation between networking and a wide range of career outcomes, including advancement, increased influence, higher pay, and greater job satisfaction. By curating and maintaining your network, you can impact your success and even affect your business or company growth.
Develop and Strengthen Your Career Network
While starting professional networking can seem overwhelming, networking opportunities are all around you. And the more ways you can actively participate, the better.
Good leaders are always looking for ways to build a better team. Expanding your network means you have a talent pool at your fingertips. If an opening in your company or on your team becomes available, you can easily reach out to your contacts for recommendations. You may even know someone who fits the bill through one of your groups. Sourcing talent through your network instead of other hiring avenues can significantly reduce the time needed to fill a role and even improve your chances of finding the perfect fit. And the right fit is crucial for job satisfaction and can even lead to lower turnover for the company. In fact, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis indicates that employees are often more satisfied with jobs they find through their network.
However, your network should also consist of internal relationships within your company. Whether that’s simply reaching out to coworkers across departments or attending company-sanctioned events, knowing and collaborating with more people in your organization will give you a deeper, more holistic understanding of your company. Internal corporate awareness will help immensely as your responsibilities grow and you need to make more strategic decisions. In addition to expanding your knowledge of the company, your internal network can help you become more visible for promotions for career growth and even give you the standing you need to initiate or fast-track projects.
Mutually Beneficial Mentorships: Find a Mentor (and Become One Yourself)
An established professional network opens the door for many potential mentorships. Both the mentor and mentee stand to benefit from these professional relationships.
For a mentee, the benefits are obvious. You can learn from your mentor’s successes (and failures) and apply the lessons to your own career growth. Mentors can support your growth, offer guidance and feedback, and share insights from their experience. Many people make the mistake of thinking they should only learn from someone with the job title they aspire to. While these mentorships are also important, when you step out of your lane, you learn from different perspectives. It’s crucial to seek mentors in other areas of your business and even various industries, “I want my producers to have mentors in different areas of the insurance space,” says Troy Fornof, executive vice president of production & underwriting, PEAK6 InsurTech MacNeill Group®. “Create relationships with customers, carriers, and other producers to see how insurance impacts their business. You’ll be unstoppable in creating solutions.”
Mentors also benefit from the relationship. Being a mentor can help improve interpersonal skills, enhance your resume, and build confidence and a sense of fulfillment. Additionally, mentors can learn from their mentees. Someone more junior in their career growth is entering the workforce with fresh eyes. You can learn a lot from their perspective and ideas. This will go a long way in honing your leadership skills and advancing your career. Strong leadership like this also leads to a more stable company and can increase company growth.
Gain Insight, Stay on Top of Trends, and Inspire Ideas
A well-curated professional network is an excellent source of new ideas and industry news. Surrounding yourself with thought leaders in your industry and others will expose you to a wealth of inspiration and perspectives that can be brought back to your team.
Aside from seeking out thought leaders, look for events and networking opportunities focusing on the areas you want to improve. This could be a summit that gathers industry panelists to discuss trends or groups focused on developing specific skills. Attending networking events with the purpose of learning is a surefire way to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and become a subject matter expert (SME) in your field.
Building an extensive network is essential to continue learning and moving forward in your career. You may not have all the answers, but you can find answers everywhere. Just ask your network. The following quote from Tom Simpson, our PEAK6 Capital Management CEO, doesn’t just apply to trading but to anyone at any point in their career, “Be curious. Ask questions of everyone you can. Build relationships so you can ask those questions. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. No one day makes your career.”
Maintain, Maintain, Maintain
You need to consistently develop and maintain your professional network to make the most of it. You can’t attend a single mixer and call it a day. You’ll want to prioritize people in your network (current or potential clients, influential and powerful colleagues, and friends who can make other connections for you). Then, stay in touch — using email and texts, social media, in-person meetings, and formal get-togethers are great ways to engage and remain connected. Finally, remember that networking works both ways; support your network by celebrating their wins and offering help whenever possible.
Remember: what you know matters. But who you know matters even more. A good leader knows the power of relationships and will continue to leverage their network throughout their career. You can learn a lot from industry news and learning opportunities at networking events, but you stand to learn even more from the people that attend them.
Join our network and follow us on LinkedIn for industry news, thought leadership, and career opportunities.