Established professionals often tout the importance of building strong networks. In fact, a 2017 global survey from LinkedIn found that nearly 80 percent of professionals consider professional networking to be important to their career success.
Professionals may see networking as a great way to land their next job, but establishing strong networks can pay dividends even for those people who have no immediate plans to leave their current companies. Small Business BC, a resource that caters to entrepreneurs in British Columbia, notes that successful networking can lead to referrals and new partnerships and raise the profiles of professionals and the companies they work for. The LinkedIn survey supports that notion, noting that one-quarter of professionals across the globe have established new business partnerships through LinkedIn Messaging. Of course, networking often helps people find new jobs as well, as the LinkedIn survey also found that 70 percent of people hired in 2016 found work at companies where they had existing connections.
Women can employ various strategies to build strong networks and maintain those networks once connections are established.
1. Join professional organizations.
Professional organizations provide great networking opportunities, serving as avenues to begin new business relationships. Many such organizations host annual conferences, and attending these conferences can help women maintain the relationships they develop through their participation in these groups. That's an important benefit, as the LinkedIn survey found that 38 percent of professionals admitted they find it hard to stay in touch with their network.
2. Offer help as much as you seek it.
The LinkedIn survey found that only 48 percent of professionals keep in touch with their networks when things are going well in their career. By reaching out to a network when things are going well, women are showing a willingness to offer help as much as seek it. That can lead to stronger, more easily maintained networks.
3. Schedule networking each week.
Build networking into your weekly schedule. Even the busiest professionals can find time each week to email someone in their network to see how things are going or share updates on previous collaborations. That's a quick and easy way to maintain connections.
The value of networking is undeniable. Women can take various steps to build strong networks and maintain those relationships for years to come.