In the post-COVID world, networking, though, has become super important for people rebuilding their professional lives. Whether it’s joining virtual events or catching up with old friends, networking helps people make new connections and find job opportunities. Many people stopped networking altogether during the pandemic, and many lost their jobs or had to shut down their businesses, making networking even more crucial.

Here are three reasons why you should never stop networking:

  1. Learning: Our network gives us new ideas and perspectives, making us better at what we do.
  2. Helping Others: Networking isn’t just about what others can do for us. We have lots to offer too, like energy, inspiration, and support.
  3. Improving Skills: Having a diverse network helps you practice important skills like communication, which I use in my work.

So, even though you don’t need more clients or a new job, networking still helps you in different ways.

Use Your Network To Learn

Networks are like big sources of knowledge. We learn stuff from people we know throughout our lives. It’s a bit like how germs spread — learning can spread too! We can learn a lot from our friends, even if we haven’t talked to them in a while. These old connections, or “dormant ties,” have plenty of wisdom to share. While we’re busy doing our thing, they’re doing theirs, and we can swap useful info when we reconnect.

Here’s how to learn from your network:

  • Expand Your Network: Connect with people from different backgrounds and places. This helps you learn new things and grow.
  • Share What You Know: Offer your skills to others in exchange for theirs. Even if it’s not related to your job, you might have something useful to teach.
  • Reconnect with Old Friends: Send a friendly email to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Keep it simple and see if they want to catch up. If they don’t respond, try again later.

Use your network to help others

When you help others, you’re not just being nice – it’s in our nature to help each other out. It makes us feel good, like a runner’s high. And when we help someone, they’re more likely to help us back.Networking isn’t just about asking for things. By offering your skills and knowledge, you can build stronger connections that might help you in the future.

Here’s how to help others through networking:

1. Develop Your “Help Fluency” Think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. It could be anything from giving advice to celebrating someone’s success. Just reaching out to someone can help them feel less lonely.

2. Find Easy Ways to Help: Look for simple tasks you can do quickly. For example, if you’re good at spotting mistakes, offer to proofread a friend’s resume.

3. Think Long-Term: Consider where you want to be in the future and who in your network might help you get there. Offer them help now, without expecting anything in return. It’s an investment in your future relationship.

Use your network to sharpen your communication skills

Talking to strangers can be tough for many of us, but it’s actually a chance to get better at chatting. When we network, we have to listen carefully to others — what they need, what they like, and what they want. But, let’s face it, we’re not always great at it. Research from the University of California shows that if we don’t practice listening, we only understand half of what’s said in a conversation. And after 48 hours, we remember even less.

That’s why practicing is so important. Networking helps us improve skills we can use in all parts of our work lives: being curious, convincing, confident, and good at catching people’s interest. These skills make us better at solving problems, making decisions, talking to people, and sharing our thoughts without talking too much.

Here are some tips for using networking to get better at communicating:

  1. Choose one or two things you want to get better at, like listening without interrupting or explaining your job clearly. Then practice these skills when you talk to someone new. You could even ask them for advice!
  2. Talk to someone in your network who has different ideas or beliefs than you. Practice having a respectful chat where you share your thoughts and listen to theirs. Start the conversation with curiosity.
  3. Work on your pitching skills by introducing someone from your network to someone else. Tell a story about how you know both people, explain why they’d get along, and ask if you can introduce them by email. Make sure your email is clear, short, and interesting.

Remember, networking isn’t just about what you want right now. It’s about learning, helping others, and getting better at what you do. So don’t be afraid to use your network to its fullest!

This article has been referenced for HBR. To read the complete article click here

About High Potential Career Planning:

An initiative of ACH, High Potential Career Planning (HPCP) is established with a mission to mentor professionals in their search for career development and growth. We provide personalized mentorship programs, which can help individuals have a fulfilling career.

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