A large part of furthering your career and improving your professional development is by building a professional network, regardless of what line of work you’re in. How do you go about starting your network though and in what ways does it benefit you? 

What Is a Professional Network?

Making friends is usually something everyone will be doing while they’re growing up. That skill comes in handy later in life when you’re old enough to start finding jobs. Building a professional network is essentially the same thing but in a more professional context. By forming relationships in your career field and other fields that your career is related to you’ll be able to rely on those associates for favors. Keep in mind that professional networks are meant to be mutually beneficial. So be prepared to do favors back for the people in your network.

Finding a Job Finding a job in a newspaper

Part of professional development is finding new jobs for yourself. Having a good standing with someone in a company that you want to work for is a great way of getting a good word in for yourself and increasing your chances of getting that job. They may not even work for that company but they could have their own connections that can help you. Not only can they help you get hired but if you have enough connections you can get a lot of information about new positions opening up.

Getting a Raise or Promotion

Being hired is one thing, but once you already have a job how can having a professional network help you? Well, if you’re looking for a promotion or a new position in your job then the connections you’ve made can put in a good word for you. Even when it comes to getting a raise it can help if you know the right people.

Professional Development

Some of the benefits that you gain from having a professional network are more obvious than others. One benefit that may not immediately come to mind is getting help with a project you’re working on. Having people you can rely on to give you fresh ideas when you’re struggling with your work can be a great way to grow your professional development and make life easier for yourself. Your connections can also help you to learn new things about your profession that will help you in the long run.

Building Your Network

Now that you know some of the benefits of having a network, how do you build your own and who do you add to it? 

Friend of a Friend Two friends talking at a table

To start, meeting people through the friends you already have is an easy way of making connections. You’ll already have something in common with your mutual friend and it’ll be a much more casual approach than some of your other options. It’s important to know that your professional network doesn’t have to be completely business oriented. In fact, it’s easier to build a connection through a friendship than purely from a business standpoint and those connections are usually stronger. Making these connections will inevitably lead to professional growth.

Put Yourself Out There

What do you do if you don’t have friends that are connected to people that you want in your professional network? One option is to attend different events where you can make the connections yourself. Conferences are often held locally for the purpose of meeting people to add to your network. If you’re too busy to go to events then you can always try online. There are websites dedicated to building professional networks.

What Else Can Improve Your Professional Development?

VOC Associates is a great source of information for learning about professional development and being the best worker you can. If you’re interested in learning more feel free to visit our website or call us at (216) 284-4526