Why is networking important? Love it or hate it, networking has a lot of benefits for businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Putting yourself out there and building connections is the foundation of any small business. Whether you're trying to grow your business, build partnerships, or advance your career, knowing the right people can help.
So, what is networking, and why is it important? What are the advantages of networking, and how can you grow your networking skills both in-person and remotely? Let’s find out!
Below we'll cover the advantages of networking, how to network remotely, questions to ask when meeting new people, how to network successfully, and the best places to find networking opportunities.
Why is Networking Important
Why is professional networking important? Networking in the workplace, in your community, across your industry, and over online networks has innumerable benefits, no matter your current position or career path.
Businesses are made by people. They are run by real people, funded by real people, and they rely on selling a product or service to real people. Knowing people and having a wide variety of connections is a huge asset in business.
What are the advantages of networking?
- Networking helps you secure new job or career opportunities.
- Networking helps you meet potential customers or clients.
- Networking helps you find talent to fill job positions.
- Networking helps you grow your own business.
- Networking helps you meet other businesses within your community.
- Networking builds your brand recognition.
- Networking builds your credibility within your industry.
- Networking helps you better understand your community.
- Networking builds confidence.
- Networking can provide fresh ideas and perspectives.
- Networking expands your profile and professional notoriety.
- Networking can establish long-lasting friendships.
What is digital networking? Networking in person isn’t always possible. And even when it is, you may want to expand your network beyond the people within your local community.
Networking remotely allows you to meet people and build connections from anywhere in the world, with anyone in the world. It opens up many more opportunities to meet new people and connect with individuals who aren’t within your physical radius.
Common forms of remote networking include virtual conferences, social media networking, such as in Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or joining online business networking groups.
How to Network Successfully
Build Your Networking Soft Skills
Networking takes practice, and doing it well is a skill you can build. If you struggle to make conversation or lack confidence when it comes to speaking to strangers, don’t worry—it will get easier with time and consistent practice.
No matter your current experience with networking, brush up on your skills before your next networking opportunity.
Practice a few talking points in the mirror and have a few go-to questions ready for when you meet people. We’ll share some questions to ask when networking below, so you don’t get stuck asking the same “what do you do?” question over and over again.
Practice your own answers as well. How do you want to describe yourself? How will you explain what you do? How will you explain what your company does? What will you say if someone asks you if you are interested in pursuing a different career? Don’t memorize these answers, as that will trip you up more, but you should have a few solid talking points ready.
Watch Your Body Language
While practicing your networking skills, don’t forget about your body language. A lot is communicated by your physical reactions and the way you stand.
Hold your shoulders high, stand up straight, and do what you can to look approachable. Avoid rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, looking at the floor, or checking a clock or watch, as these are clear signals to those around you that you are uninterested in what they have to say and aren’t ready to meet people.
💡 Learn How to Improve Workplace Body Language, including the types of negative body language you should avoid and how you can improve.
Know Who to Network With
The success of your networking begins with finding appropriate places (physical or online) to network. Begin by asking yourself who you hope to meet.
Are you looking for opportunities to advance your career? Are you trying to find new customers or clients to grow your business? Are you searching for potential employees? Are you hoping to meet other people and businesses within your community? Or is it all of the above?
Look for conferences within your industry as well as ones outside of your own niche. For example, our Blue Summit Supplies team might participate in an office supplies event or conference. But we also might attend a marketing conference to learn more about how to grow and expand our brand, or we might attend an HR conference to learn how to better manage our teams.
Get creative and think outside the box. What networking opportunities outside of your own specific business niche exist? You never know where you will meet your next client or find your next amazing hire.
Look for networking opportunities within your direct community. What small business networking events are available for you or your employees to participate in? If you find there is a lack of networking opportunities in your community, consider hosting an event yourself.
Don’t limit yourself to in-person events. Remote networking opportunities are plentiful and wide-ranging, and many of them are free. Look for small business networking groups on LinkedIn and Facebook as well as online events on those networks and Eventbrite.
Networking Questions to Ask
Networking can be a challenge, especially for anyone who doesn’t like approaching others or making conversation with complete strangers. Having talking points and interesting questions at the ready can help calm your nerves as you’ll know exactly how to get a conversation started.
Don’t ask the same “what do you do?” question over and over again; instead, prepare interesting questions that will get a conversation started. Asking interesting questions will keep conversations going and limit awkward pauses, and it will help you stand out in a group of people. You’ll be remembered as the one who asked that intriguing question.
Networking questions to ask:
- What part of your job do you enjoy most?
- What does a typical workday look like for you?
- If you could work any job, would it be your current one?
- What does your workspace look like?
- What experience did you have before starting your current job?
- What is your company culture like?
- Do you work from an office, from home, or hybrid remote?
- What has changed the most in your industry since you started?
- Where is your favorite local lunch spot?
- How did you hear about this event/conference/group?
- What type of team building does your business run?
- Where do you see your career 5 years from now?
- Where do you see your business 5 years from now?
- Are you reading any good books right now?
- What’s your favorite book to recommend?
- Would you rather work three 10-hour days or three hours every day?
- If you could teleport to anywhere in the world right now for a two-week vacation, where would you go?
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
- If you could instantly become an expert at any sport, what would it be?
- Coffee or tea?
- Sweet or salty?
- Star Wars or Star Trek?
Are you ready for your networking event? Do you have everything you need? Follow our networking checklist to ensure you are prepared and ready to begin meeting people.
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