Top 10 Reasons to Have a Professional Network

When I work with senior leaders, we often discuss networking. They want to increase their network, and sometimes they do. Many times, however, they just cannot get past the daily grind in order to build the network. It’s so important to have a robust network, and here’s my Top 10 Reasons why.

1. You gain Social Capital. Harvard Kennedy School says, “The term social capital emphasizes not just warm and cuddly feelings, but a wide variety of quite specific benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. Social capital creates value for the people who are connected and, at least sometimes, for bystanders as well.”

Social Capital provides us with the human need to bond and collaborate. They grow our social bank of debits and credits, and it broadens our thinking. There’s also research to suggest that social capital positively affects our health. Growing your social capital grows your executive presence.

2. You learn about industry trends. When you meet people who work in the same industry, or other industries, you learn about those companies’ strengths and challenges.

3. You may find a mentor or an opportunity to be a mentor. If you don’t have a mentor, this is an excellent way to meet a mentor. Or, if you are not a mentor, it’s a great way to find someone to mentor.

4. You learn about special interest events. Perhaps you are interested in public speaking, or how to reduce stress. There are tons of meet–ups and groups that are interest-based.

5. You find a volunteer board position. Being on a board is a fabulous way to meet other professionals, network and give to a worthy cause. It’s also good for your executive presence because it shows leadership.

6. You find a referral for a great employee. Referrals from others are one of the best recruiting tools. Typically good people refer people like themselves.

7. You learn about other leaders. Who is doing good and innovative work, and inspiring others? Many meet-ups, feature leaders who discuss their rise to success.

8. You practice your verbal and non-verbal public skills. Unless you are a super extrovert, speaking with new people in a public environment keeps you on your toes. Remember, how you speak, what you say and your body language communicate a great deal about you.

9. You learn about clients or prospective clients. If you are in marketing, sales, design or even development, meeting new potential new clients could provide you with valuable information about their buying habits and pain points.

10. It’s an investment in you. The number one reason people don’t invest in themselves is because they do not have time. Make the time to grow your network.

This year, make it a goal to increase your social capital by growing your network by 25%. Choose some targeted events to attend and practice your networking skills. Don’t forget networking can happen inside the organization as well. Ask those folks to coffee or a walk and make that connection.

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