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The Power Of Networking – How To Build Your Professional Circle

Written by: Jenna Cantwell, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Jenna Cantwell

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, building a strong professional network is more important than ever. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, gain new insights and perspectives, grow your business, or simply connect with like-minded professionals, networking can open up a world of opportunities. However, many people, like myself, find the prospect of networking daunting or overwhelming.

woman at the office attending virtual meeting

In this article, we’ll explore the power of networking and provide practical tips and strategies for building your professional circle. From social media to online communities to virtual conferences, there are a wealth of resources available to help you expand your network and achieve your professional goals.


I think Yves Preissler says it best when he says ‘We are living in an era of collaboration’ in his powerful networking article. So, whether you’re just starting out in your career or looking to expand your network, the strategies below will help you achieve your goals and build meaningful, long-lasting connections in your industry. Read on to discover the power of networking and how to make it work for you.


The importance of networking


So why is networking so important?! There are countless benefits of networking but the four main benefits are career development, business opportunities, mentorship and support, and valuable insights.


1. Career Development: Networking can open doors to new career opportunities and help you advance in your current position. According to a recent study conducted by LinkedIn, 85% of all jobs are filled through networking. As a Resume Writer, Certified Career Coach, and former Recruiter/Staffing Manager, I can certainly say that networking and referrals are a key part of this process!


2. Business Opportunities: Networking can result in partnerships, project collaborations, new clients, and new business opportunities. Word of mouth is still the strongest marketing weapon out there by being part of professional networks, you are organically spreading awareness of your business or professional expertise.


3. Mentorship & Support: Even the best of the best can benefit from mentorship and support. Networking can connect you with like-minded professionals who can offer guidance, advice, support, and/or a fresh perspective.


4. Valuable Insights: Building a strong professional circle can give you access to valuable insights, new skills, and current trends. Having industry connections can help keep you up-to-date on the latest developments in your field.


6 Ways to effectively build a professional network


Historically, networking meant scheduling in-person events to attend with your printed business cards and resume, walking around with a portfolio, and awkwardly talking to strangers while trying to not come off eager to achieve your networking goal. Today, thanks to the evolving familiarity and importance of the digital world, we have more options than ever for networking. A recent study by Zippia showed that 40% of professionals say that they network more online than in person but 95% of professionals agree that face-to-face communications is vital for their business. I say, do what works for you and make the most of whatever situation you choose.


As a former recruiter and staffing manager turned entrepreneur resume writer and career coach, I have experienced networking from several angles from in-person events to live masterminds. The top ways to build your professional circle and reap the benefits of networking in 2023 are:

1. Join virtual or in-person organizations

Joining industry-specific associations and/or organizations, whether virtual or in-person, provides an excellent opportunity to expand your network within your industry or area of interest. Examples include industry-specific associations, virtual networking groups on LinkedIn, local business chambers of commerce, meetup groups, virtual mastermind groups, and community collaborations. I am a member of PAWRCC and I participate in a few other virtual groups; however, I know that I’m not optimizing my networking efforts, which needs to change!


These organizations often host events, workshops, and conferences where you can meet like-minded professionals, share knowledge, and collaborate on projects. In virtual settings, you can engage in online forums, webinars, and virtual meetups, enabling you to connect with professionals from around the world without geographical constraints. Additionally, being an active member of such organizations can enhance your credibility and visibility within your field, leading to potential career advancements and business opportunities.


2. Scale social media presence

In the digital age, social media plays a significant role in professional networking, as evidenced by a 2023 study conducted by Statista, which found that 87% of professionals used LinkedIn for networking purposes, while 48% used Facebook and 39% used Twitter. Leveraging these platforms can exponentially expand your reach and visibility within your industry.


Start by creating a well-optimized LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills, accomplishments, and professional interests. Actively engage with industry-related content and discussions to demonstrate your expertise and passion. Additionally, participate in relevant groups and use industry-specific hashtags to connect with like-minded professionals.


By regularly sharing valuable insights and content, you can position yourself as an industry thought leader, attracting potential employers, clients, and collaborators. Building a strong online presence not only enriches your professional circle but also makes it easier for others to discover and connect with you, opening the door to exciting networking opportunities.


3. Pursue hobbies

Networking doesn’t always have to revolve around work-related activities! Engaging in hobbies and personal interests can also serve as a gateway to building your professional circle. Participate in local or virtual clubs and groups that align with your passions, as these settings bring together individuals with shared interests. Engaging in conversations about common hobbies can lead to deeper connections, and you may find unexpected opportunities or collaborations within your hobby community that could enhance your professional circle in surprising ways. Worst case, you have some fun pursuing your hobbies


4. Get involved in your community

Volunteering and contributing to your community can be a powerful way to build your personal and professional network. Engaging in local charity events, community projects, or industry-related initiatives provides you with opportunities to connect with individuals who share your values and passions. Additionally, by giving back to the community, you create a positive impression on others, and they may be more willing to refer you to potential opportunities or introduce you to relevant contacts. Volunteering is impactful and meaningful by itself, but you aren’t heartless for hoping you can get even more out of it one day.


5. Attend virtual conferences and events

With the increasing popularity of virtual events, conferences, and webinars, you can expand your professional circle without leaving your home. Virtual gatherings provide access to a broader range of industry experts, thought leaders, and professionals from different geographical locations. Take advantage of these opportunities to attend virtual panel discussions, workshops, and networking sessions.


Tip: Start a separate calendar for upcoming physical and virtual events and utilize quick “add to calendar” features. For instance, I have personal and professional calendars in my Google calendar and when there is an upcoming event that I am not sure if I will have time (or the desire) to join but I want to keep it on my radar, I add them to that calendar. This way, I can easily view and enroll in upcoming events weekly without cluttering up my main calendar.


6. Collaborate with other professionals

Collaboration is a powerful way to build strong and lasting connections with other professionals. Seek opportunities to collaborate on projects, webinars, workshops, or joint ventures within your industry. Working together on shared goals fosters trust and mutual respect, which forms the foundation for a robust professional network. Collaborations can lead to new perspectives, skill development, and expanded exposure within your industry. Don’t hesitate to reach out to individuals whose expertise complements yours or aligns with your goals!


As the world continues to evolve, so does the art of networking. In today’s fast-paced and interconnected society, building a strong professional circle through networking has never been more critical. Whether you’re seeking career development, business opportunities, mentorship, or valuable insights, the power of networking can unlock a world of possibilities. Remember, networking is not just about meeting new people; it’s about forging meaningful, long-lasting relationships that can propel your career or business to new heights. Embrace this era and make the most of the vast networking resources available to you. Your future success awaits – get social!


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Jenna Cantwell Brainz Magazine
 

Jenna Cantwell, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jenna Cantwell is a leader in professional branding, resume writing, and career growth. She is passionate about helping both jobseekers and any business professional looking to grow. Jenna is a former recruiter and staffing manager who is able to cultivate unique, attention-grabbing resumes and branding materials that hiring managers desire. She also thrives at helping individuals and businesses by promoting a well-rounded work/life balance. As a self-made small business owner and mama of two toddlers, Jenna can naturally thrives in an ever-changing environment and is up for any challenge her clients throw at her.

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