It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. How often have you heard that cynical piece of advice? Cynical or not, there’s more than a grain of truth in it. All other things being equal, someone who knows the right people has a better chance of being hired or promoted than someone who doesn’t.
What’s the best way to make sure you know the right people? Have a network, of course. That’s why networking plays such a major role in the business world. But should it? Could all the time used for networking be better spent doing something else?
Why Networking Helps
Whether you’re looking for a new job or planning to start your own business, you’re not going to be doing it in a vacuum. Other people have vital roles to play, so it’s obviously helpful if you know at least some of the people you’ll be dealing with.
Here are some ways in which networking can contribute to your success:
- Finding vacancies. No matter how thoroughly you search for jobs, you’ll never find all the openings. Some aren’t even widely advertised. If someone who knows you is aware of a vacancy and thinks you’d be a perfect fit, they can let you know about it.
- Developing your career. It would be great if organizations managed their staff’s careers in an optimum way, but in reality, they usually don’t. You can keep plugging away quietly but competently and hope someone notices you, or you can do some networking. A good network will increase your visibility with management, keep you aware of new opportunities for training or projects and keep you connected to what’s happening.
- Finding essential skills. What if you’re heading up a project — or launching your own business — and something needs done that you don’t have the skills to do? A good network can come to the rescue here. Of course, other people in it might call on your skills, and that’s another great way to find opportunities.
- Attracting investment. If you want to start your own business, you’re probably going to need investors. Would you rather try to convince an anonymous bank official that you’re a safe bet or deal with someone who’s either in your network or knows someone who is?
There are many reasons why networking is essential to business success, but it can also be a double-edged sword. While a good network will make sure everyone knows about your strengths, it can also let them know your weaknesses. Get it right, and time spent in networking will repay itself over and over again.