6 Reasons why professional networking is important

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My inbox was filled with invites to webinars and breakfast seminars, and that’s not just from vendors. Today, it is a lot more difficult to network, but not impossible, because many of these events are online.
Even so, if I include the professional development events of the project management groups that I belong to, I could be going to something every week.
What are the benefits of networking, other than the free drinks? Here are 6 reasons to network.

1. Networking is about finding opportunities
2. Networking helps to build relationships
3. Networking is expected
4. Networking is good for your projects
5. Networking can help you advance your career
6. Networking is a Virtuous Circle

No matter how much you know or don’t like it, networking is an important part of your job.
Will Kintish elaborates on this in his book Business Networking: The Survival Guide: How networking can be less stressful and more about success.
He explains 6 reasons why networking is important and why it is worth your time and effort.
These are my thoughts, along with them.
1. Networking is about finding opportunities
Networking isn’t about selling. You need to get rid of that thought. It’s actually the opposite. Networking is all about finding opportunities. To help them find solutions, you should spend some time asking questions about their business and the people you are speaking to.
In fact, I was the victim of a’sell’ in a prime example networking gone wrong. It was at a PMI conference, and I was talking to Clark A. Campbell (author of The One Page Project Manager). Another man was there. He spoke for a long time about himself and his work.
Clark excused himself and said to me that he had missed an opportunity to speak with Clark – an expert in project communication and reporting and me – an authority on collaboration tools for project managers. He knew who we were and what our past activities, but he didn’t ask us anything beyond that. He didn’t get any value from the conversation (and neither did I).
This is not networking. It’s just filling your time with useless chatter. Although I can recall the incident, I don’t know who the man was. That was a great impression.
2. Networking helps to build relationships
Project managers need to have good relationships at work. Kintish writes that spending time building relationships could lead to better results in the long-term.
If you’ve been project managing for a while, you know how important it can be to build relationships with stakeholders past, present and future. My research for my book Customer-Centric Project Management shows that good working relationships also improve the perception of project success.
3. Networking is expected
This is my favorite reason. Kintish writes that even though your role is not to market the company or bring in new business, it is expected that you will meet new people and get to know the market.
Project managers are no exception to this rule. How do you quickly gather information about the new project? Talking to people. That’s networking! It’s just as important to build your internal network as it is to make new contacts outside your workplace.
4. Networking is good for your projects
Kintish states that it’s a great way to learn about the business, understand your industry better, and hear about the challenges faced.
This is essential if you manage project stakeholders. Many of them will take a ‘what’s it for me’ approach.