Networking: the Root of Your Career’s Life

Once it finally warmed up in Wisconsin, my children were able to engage in one of their favorite springtime activities — picking flowers for Mommy. (As the recipient of their gifts, I have to admit that it is one of my favorite, too!) :)

One morning last month, after they had picked a vaseful of daffodils for me, my 5-year-old son and I had the following conversation:

Son: Are those flowers growing, Mommy?
Me: No, they’re not because you picked them. They don’t have any roots to grow.

Networking: the Root of Your Career's LifeWe went on to talk a bit about how the root system of plants brings water from the ground to the flower so it can keep growing. Since that conversation, I have been reflecting on how networking is as vital to one’s career as roots are to a plant’s life.

How does networking support the life of your career?

  • By providing new contacts. It’s important to revitalize your network with new contacts for a couple reasons. First of all, change happens. If a contact switches to a career in a different field, the relevance s/he has is going to decrease over time due to a lack of involvement in your industry. Secondly, a contact who first met you in the early years of your career may not have a complete understanding of where you are now or an appreciation of experiences you have had over the past several years. Not that older contacts can’t be a benefit to your career; they absolutely can be — if they are in your field and if you maintain a good relationship with them (see the last point). But gaining new contacts can certainly revitalize your network and provide you with opportunities that may not have otherwise presented themselves.
  • By providing job leads. Trolling job boards only scratches the surface of the jobs that are out there. Consider these statistics: 58% of active job seekers and 81% of passive candidates are finding new jobs from positions that are never published. That means you only have one way of hearing about those unpublished openings — by talking with the people who know about them. So, if you’re not networking, you’ll never hear about them. Why would you cut yourself off from such a significant source of opportunities?
  • By keeping you current in your field. If you are networking for your career, that means that you are somehow engaging with others in the same profession. And how do you connect with these folks? By attending industry association events, a conference, a class, and so on. Not only are you talking with people who are in the same line of work, you are also expanding your knowledge base.
  • By maintaining professional relationships. Say that you met a hiring manager at a networking event and really hit it off with her. You connected on LinkedIn, but it’s been six years since you last talked to her. If you are now seeking other employment, do you really think that you could tap that person to see if she knows of any job leads? The request would come across as opportunistic, to say the least. Instead of letting connections grow cold, make an effort to keep things fresh by sharing an article that they may like or by linking them with someone who could help them solve a problem.

How else does networking bring life to your career?

Image: daisies my daughter picked for me this spring, along with her sweet note

Does this article resonate with you? Let’s work together for you and your career!

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