The Complete Guide To Networking

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published March 12, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published March 12, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Networking can be an important part of your professional career, as it provides many benefits when done successfully. The more connections you have in your network, the more you will be able to connect with the companies and positions that you truly desire. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about networking, including what it is, the different types of networking and how to network like a pro, with tips.

What is networking?

Networking is the act of forming relationships and exchanging information with other individuals who share a common interest, such as a profession or industry. Networking typically happens in social settings like happy hours or networking events. Many people use networking as a way to broaden their professional circles, as well as to get more information about job opportunities in their fields.

Additional reasons people use networking include :

  • Forming relationships with other professionals in similar careers

  • Sharing information that is relevant to a particular industry or career

  • Building relationships with companies in order to do business with them in the future

  • Broadening awareness of current trends in a particular industry

  • Staying up-to-date on job openings in a field or industry

The primary goal of networking is to build long-lasting professional relationships that are mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

Related: Definitive Guide To Business Networking

Different types of networking groups

You can participate in several types of networking groups to broaden your professional contacts. The most common types of networking groups include:

  • Online groups: These are groups on the internet that connect like-minded individuals in order to build professional relationships. For example, you may join a graphic designer online networking group to meet other graphic designers and learn about potential opportunities in the industry. This type of network is convenient for people who are busy and unable to meet in person.

  • Professional associations: Many industries have professional associations that allow people to connect with others and widen their contact base in that industry. People also use these associations to gain clients and/or broaden the exposure of a company's services or products.

  • Casual contact groups: People form this type of network on a casual basis, and it consists of people from different industries gathering to build relationships and expand their professional contacts. A Chamber of Commerce is an example of a casual contact group.

  • Strong contact groups: These types of networking groups typically allow one individual per profession to join and have the purpose of producing business referrals. Strong contact groups are very exclusive and can be difficult to get into.

  • Community service clubs: This type of networking group primarily provides a service to the community. However, it can be beneficial for building lasting relationships that eventually lead to professional advantages.

Related: The Importance of Networking in Business (Tips Included)

How to network like a pro

The following are steps you should take when networking to ensure professionalism and success:

  1. Choose the best type of networking for you.

  2. Make genuine connections.

  3. Figure out how you can contribute to the relationship.

  4. Stay consistent in your networking efforts.

  5. Continue to build your network.

1. Choose the best type of networking for you.

There are several ways you can network, and not all of them will work for you. For example, if you are more extroverted, you may enjoy large networking events. However, if you are shy around big groups of people, online or one-on-one networking may provide the most benefits. Determine what type of networking meets your unique needs and pursue that.

2. Make genuine connections.

It's important to keep in mind that networking isn't about instant professional connections that will benefit your career. You should focus on making genuine connections with like-minded people rather than only connecting with people who can give you something.

3. Figure out how you can contribute to the relationship.

Base your networking efforts on a balance of give and take. Make sure you aren't simply asking your network for favors or jobs. Rather, do what you can to support your network's professional efforts and it's likely that they will do the same for you. Listen when the other person is talking and become genuinely interested in what they have to say.

4. Stay consistent in your networking efforts.

Networking isn't about going to one event and getting a few phone numbers. Rather, it's about meeting new people and then fostering those relationships over time. You must stay consistent in your networking efforts to reap the benefits of building professional connections.

5. Continue to build your network.

The more people you have in your network, the more useful it will be. Rather than choosing one type of networking or a single event to attend, try to make it a habit to continuously build your network whenever possible. This will help your network grow and provide you with new professional opportunities.

Read more: 10 Tips To Help You Network Like a Pro

Tips for networking

Here are some tips to consider when networking:

  • Don't wait until you need a new job to network. Beginning your networking efforts now, before you're ready to start looking for a job, is a proactive and effective way to use this professional strategy. Then, when the time comes for you to get a new job or make a career shift, you will have an established network that can help you with your goals.

  • Establish your career goals. It's important to know what you want in your career when you start networking. For example, consider what your career goals are for the next three years and where you want to be professionally in five years. Having a concrete idea of your objectives can help you decide where and with whom you should network.

  • Create a networking strategy. Rather than choosing any networking event or group to connect with, take the time to decide which network will provide the most benefit to you professionally. Then, when you build relationships in this network, be strategic in how you nurture them. The more thoughtful and deliberate you are in your connections, the more likely they are to provide professional value to you over the long-term.

Explore more articles