If you want to advance your career, regardless of what you set out to achieve, you will need help and support from others. Conventional corporate wisdom will advise you to “tap into your network”. This network may have been developed at professional networking events: exchanging business cards and making small talk with your industry peers. In the digital age, it may be making connections on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. We all aspire to extensive networks in hopes that within this network there are people who can help us to land the next great opportunity, within our current organisation or beyond.
However, I think that the importance of long-term relationship building, for career advancement, has been overlooked. If networking is about knowing more people, then building connections emphasises knowing people better. Building meaningful connections can make all the difference and launch you into the next phase of your professional journey. Here are 3 reasons why building connections is better than conventional networking.
Connections provide quality over quantity
Networking, online and offline, can yield hundreds or thousands of connections. But how useful is a fleeting acquaintance with hundreds of people or trying to recall one name in a stack of business cards? Maintaining a network requires effort and time but building relationships with a few quality connections is a more efficient use of your time. Networking provides numerous superficial connections, whereas building connections can provide genuine relationships. Building connection ensures that you are investing your time and energy into deepening the relationship with the person, not their position. Once a genuine relationship is developed, trust can be gained and the benefit of the connection is mutual.
Connections can become mentors and sponsors
A connection with whom you have developed a relationship of mutual benefit will be more inclined to invest time to help you to advance your career. With a sense of trust and honesty, a connection will share valuable insights, advice and guidance that they may not share with their broader network. With the demands of our professional lives, most people will spend their precious time and resources mentoring someone who has made an effort to build a meaningful relationship with them. If your connection feels that they can vouch for you they may be willing to leverage their position, serving as a sponsor in spaces that you may not have access to. Having a trusted connection who can speak to your skills and character in your absence is one of the most valuable endorsements you can receive.
Connections can lead to lasting friendships
Building connections allows you to share your passions and interests, as well as your career goals. Connecting with a like-minded individual in a business-setting will benefit your professional goals, but it can also lead to true friendship. Friendships in a professional setting provide support that can boost your confidence and well-being in relation to your work.
What value do you see in building connection over networking? Let’s talk!