Today’s post is written by Dan McCarthy. Dan has worked in the event management industry for five years and is currently an event manager for the UK-based company Venueseeker. His portfolio includes many successful event planning projects for companies across various niches. He is currently a regular contributor to his company’s blog site. Follow him on Twitter at @DanCarthy2.

These days, it’s all about having the right connections. The more people you know, the more likely you are to land big career opportunities and gigs.

7 Reasons You Should Invest Your Time in Networking

If you’re not already networking, then you need to get started because you are potentially missing out on invaluable connections that could be your ticket to a brighter future.

1. More Opportunities

Isn’t the whole reason for networking to find more opportunities? Of course, not every connection you make will lead to an open door, but if you keep at it, sooner or later you will connect with someone who just might be your golden ticket. This could be someone that becomes a long-term client, someone who refers you to someone who eventually becomes a client or someone who works for a company looking for a person with your skills.

People also tend to be more inclined to give opportunities to those in their close inner circle as opposed to some random guy that responded to a Craigslist ad. This is why you should rub elbows with people in your industry.

Here’s another thing: opportunities found through networking is more reliable than a job found in an ad. Sites like Craigslist contain job ads that aren’t always what they pan out to be. It also contains dubious ads that are just plain scams. When a job offer is acquired through a friend, however, the opportunity is more promising because it’s coming from someone you trust.

2. Find Opportunities Through Indirect Network

This was just touched upon a bit. You may be familiar with the six degrees of separation concept. It basically means you have some form of connection with every person in the world through a chain of six or fewer acquaintances.

If true, then that’s a pretty cool thought. It makes all the sense in the world than to build your network. Someone you befriended at a workshop may know someone who knows someone who knows someone that is seeking someone with your professional background.

The six degrees of separation theory may or may not be true. Either way, there’s no question that networking means meeting acquaintances of acquaintances that just might hold the key to your future.

3. Make Friends

People usually network to broaden their career prospects. However, there’s also the side benefits of making friends. These are people that you may spend the weekend with at the pub or even just people you chat with online when you have nothing better to do.

You can never have too many friends and forming connections outside the workplace is a huge benefit even if no career opportunities ever arise out of it. Studies, in fact, has shown that people with close friends live longer than those who lack strong social ties. Those with few friends are also more prone to heart disease and depression.

4. Help Others

Yes, networking is about finding opportunities. However, it’s also about providing opportunities. Networking provides mutual benefits for all involved. Just as others will open doors for you, you will do the same for others whenever you can. This can be done a number of ways.

Perhaps you can refer a friend to a company you once worked for or provide an honest feedback about a former employer. When you help others, those people will be more likely to extend the same olive branch at a later point. Plus, helping others just feels good and is an altruistic thing to do.

5. Hone Your People-Person Skills

Networking can be done via social media or through live networking events. While the former is more readily accessible, the latter simply has no equal. There is no replacement for meeting people face-to-face. One report, in fact, found that 85% of respondents found face-to-face meetings to be more useful for building meaningful business relationships.

Having live interactions also helps improve your social and oratory skills, which is a huge asset in any industry. Being an introvert simply doesn’t cut it in most lines of work, so refining your people-person skills is something that comes naturally with attending multiple live networking events.

If there are no local networking events, then consider starting your own. Yes, it’s a big commitment, but by being the organizer, people will see you as an authority figure of sorts. If you go this route, just be sure you select the right venue and ask the right questions when making arrangements.

6. Learn More About Your Industry from a Consumer Perspective

Networking means meeting people who just might become a client. When you talk to a wide demographic range of audience, you gain more insights about what customers are looking for. This includes their behavioral patterns, why they’re interested in your product or service, and ultimately what makes them tick.

After speaking to a good number of people at networking events, you’ll come to identify certain trends that can be used to tailor your marketing or modify your service. The information you get from talking to consumers first hand is often more valuable than information gleaned from boxes ticked off in a survey.

Likewise, you can also meet other industry leaders that can impart similar information based on their own experience and research.

7. Finding a New Career Path

Some people feel stuck in their current line of work. Even if you feel secure with your career, you may find that your true calling lies elsewhere upon meeting and learning about the experiences of other people. It could very well be that your talents are better suited to another area within the same industry. That area may have more fresh opportunities ripe for the picking.

Sometimes, the realization of a different career path won’t even dawn on you until you speak with other people. It may also be the case that you’ve been contemplating a switch for some time and just needed the right opportunity to present itself.

Networking Can Only Help You

You can only benefit by knowing more people and inviting allies into your inner circle. With it comes new opportunities, friendships, and skill development.

Question: Do you networking? Have you seen the results you expected to? How would you improve your networking skills? You can leave your comments or your questions, by clicking here