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Networking opens up a world of opportunity, not only in a job hunt, but in a number of other areas that can contribute to professional growth and development. Networking is about cultivating strong, long term relationships that will contribute to your knowledge, confidence and ability to reach your full potential. While it requires putting yourself out there and getting to know a variety of different people, it’s an invaluable skill that can really take you places. 

What is a professional network?

A professional network is a group of people who connect for career-related purposes. A professional network shares information about jobs, industry insights, prospective employers or employees, vendors and suppliers, as well as recommendations.

5 reasons you should build your professional network 

There are a number of ways a professional network can help you advance in your career. 

  • Gain advice about projects

New projects at work can be daunting at times and a little support from an experienced peer can go a long way. If you’re still building your experience and need advice, a member of your network will likely be able to offer guidance, or point you in the direction of someone else who can. 

  • Get access to job opportunities 

As your professional network grows, more job opportunities will arise. If you’re active in your network, peers will think of you when they come across relevant job openings. If you’re tired of sending off your CV in confidence, only to receive a response in the form of an automated email, let the power of networking drive your job search. You’ll be surprised at how effective a simple introduction or referral to a hiring manager can be. 

If you need to strengthen your CV, read our article on creating a portfolio of work.  

  • Build confidence

Whether you love to socialise regularly or not, networking can be a huge asset to your confidence levels and social skills. It encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone and meet new people to strengthen your network. If you’re passionate about your work, you’ll always find something relatable to talk about, whether it’s industry news, past or future projects or details about your career journey so far. 

  • Gain industry insights

When exploring career options, it’s important to gather information about jobs, employees and career pathways. Company websites and job descriptions are a good starting point, but you’ll gather valuable first-hand information by connecting with people in the industry.

  • Help others

Networking is a two-way street, and the relationships you build should be reciprocal. Whether now or further down the track, members of your network will turn to you for guidance and support, or you might get the opportunity to recommend someone for their dream job. As an active member of a professional network, you can positively impact the lives of your peers. 

Tips for professional networking

Like any social situation, professional networking requires time and effort to positively affect your career. Engage with the right people, use your resources and remember to touch base regularly with the members in your network.

You can find more tips for networking effectively here

It goes without saying that the goal of professional networking is to build strong relationships that will benefit your career. However, it’s important to highlight that networking can unite you with people that will become life-long friends. 

If you’re ready to advance in your career, but need the right qualification to get you there, take our free skills test to see if you can convert your experience, skills and knowledge into a nationally recognised Australian qualification

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