The importance of networking in 2024
We are social creatures and we live in a world that thrives on connection. Opportunities for like-minded professionals to get together in the same room are getting rarer and rarer, but strategic networking gives us a space where we can discuss big ideas, create new opportunities and have conversations that help us expand our world. In 2024, networking is about so much more than collecting business cards or LinkedIn QR codes, it is about community building, innovation and strategic professional growth. The trick is to choose where you spend your time carefully, as without proper attention you may end up with a calendar full of networking sessions that offer little or no value to your personal growth or business ambitions. Take time to establish what you hope to gain from the process and set yourself a set of clear goals or actions for each networking event that you attend, that way you can easily measure where you are getting the most value.
With teams feeling more pressure than ever and diaries bursting at the seams, why should you make time to attend networking this year?
Expanding your world
In an increasingly online world, it can be easy to get stuck in an echo chamber of your immediate network. Making the time to attend networking sessions, even if they are digital or hybrid events, is an effective way of opening the doors to new people and ideas that can inspire you and help you expand your worldview. Innovation happens when new conversations happen, and that can be difficult if you stick to your immediate colleagues or network.
Exchanging ideas and having big conversations
Being part of a collection of diverse viewpoints and experiences gives you access to a wealth of new knowledge and a wealth of creativity and innovation. By speaking to people who have different skills and life experiences, you can exchange and challenge ideas and find the right people and skills to help you solve complex problems. Networking events give you access to people from different sectors, in different stages of their careers, or with different lived experiences who might help you to approach things from a different angle.
A study by LinkedIn revealed that 79% of professionals consider networking an essential part of their career success. Making meaningful connections with other people in your field can lead to mentoring opportunities, peer support and new conversations that can drive professional development. By speaking to people who have forged the path before you, you can get important insight to help you achieve your career goals, and you could support others along the way too.
Investing time in regular networking keeps you relevant in your space and ensures that you stay visible and part of important conversations or advancements in your field. By attending conferences, seminars, trade shows, or social get-togethers, you can build a reputation as a thought leader within your core field and you’ll be front of mind when someone is looking for your specialist skills.
Growth through learning
Burnout can creep in when we get stuck doing the same thing day in, and day out, but making time to learn and develop is the key to thriving. A lot of industries will have to change and adapt to new landscapes over the next year, and networking can help you stay abreast of the latest trends or technologies in your sector. Talking to peers gives you access to a consistent stream of information and keeps you at the forefront of your sector’s developing landscape as you navigate 2024 together.
Building confidence (for you and others)
Walking into a room full of strangers can be nerve-racking and it often gets pushed to the bottom of the pile if you find it uncomfortable. Being a confident networker doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice and as more and more organisations move to a permanent working from home structure, the next generation of talent is losing the chance to practice those interpersonal skills that make our workforce vibrant and creative. Networking can increase your confidence in group situations, which can help you be more assertive in the workplace, but it also helps to future-proof our workforce by providing opportunities for the next generation to get out of their comfort zone and flourish.
Finding your support systems
Whatever stage you are at in your career, there will be times when things don’t go to plan, and if the last few years have taught us anything, it is importance to know who you can turn to when the unexpected happens. Consistent networking will help you cultivate a community of people who will have your back when you are facing a time of crisis or change. By making the time to network with a diverse range of people, chances are that someone has tackled your problem before, or can offer advice on how to traverse the issue – likewise, you could offer support to others drawn from your own experience. Finding the right mentor to offer guidance and learning opportunities will be invaluable in your career journey, and future mentors can often be at networking events, or via relationships that you build there.
In 2024, networking isn’t a selfish endeavour engineered to push sales targets and gather leads. Networking is a holistic endeavour that will elevate you as a leader in your field while building a supportive network of diverse minds who will help you reach your goals and be a reassuring community when times get tough.
Posted on January 24, 2024