Everyone knows the first major benefit of networking: It might get you a job. That’s the reason most of us make smalltalk at conferences when we’d rather hang out near the cheese platter. But as MIT career development specialist Lily Zhang writes in an informative Daily Muse post, there are at least four other reasons to network. Read on for a summary of Zhang’s “4 Things Networking Can Help You Do (Besides Get a Job),” and get ready to put yourself out there.
1. Keeping Up With the Industry — Whether you’re chatting with a colleague at a conference or exchanging questions with a hiring manager at an informational interview, you’re bound to pick up useful info about where others see your industry heading. Whether the conversation leads to a new job, you’ll come away better informed about your field of interest, and that will pay huge dividends down the line.
2. Learning What NOT to Do — Everyone has success and failure stories, and by talking to people about where they’ve fallen short in the past, you’ll be able to learn from their mistakes and avoid making them yourself. While Zhang cautions against saying things like, “So, tell me about a time you failed,” you might get the ball rolling bay asking folks to look back on their careers and explain whether they’d do anything differently.
3. Two Words: Free Advice — Actually, make that three words: free career advice. By chatting with people more experienced than you, you’ll have a shot to share career moves you’ve been considering and get expert feedback. Also, Zhang says, it’s a way to show people that you admire them. “You wouldn’t be asking for advice if you didn’t respect their opinions, right?” she writes.
4. Sounding Boards for Ideas — Do you have a proposal you’ve been thinking of pitching your boss? Networking is a terrific way to bounce ideas off of others and discover where you might need to adjust your arguments and make the presentation stronger. On a related note, networking allows you to showcase your skills, and that could pay off later.