The Benefits of Growing Your Network

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With the many demands our busy careers (and lives) place on us every day, it’s easy to overlook the value of making personal connections in the professional world. It may often feel like there's little time or incentive to cultivate such relationships, but networking, far from being a drain on your scarce resources, represents an important investment in yourself and your future.

The real cost of networking, of course, is time. And, whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, it's important to understand that networking is still work. However, most networking events are free to attend, and, if you're smart about which ones you include on your calendar, you’re sure to meet like-minded individuals you can work with or learn from in some way.

That also means that growing your network can be incredibly rewarding. In fact, it can be career-enhancing, personally enriching, thought-provoking, and just plain fun. Consider these ways in which expanding your network can positively influence your career and create a wealth of new opportunities.

Connections

“It’s not what you know but who you know.” It’s an old adage for a reason. To have a successful business career, you need reliable, trusted connections you can call on when needed. Choosing to network expands your world and puts you in a position to interact with highly influential people to whom you might not otherwise have access. You're likely to learn about developing industries, encounter the entrepreneurs behind successful start-ups, and hear success stories that can inform your long-term goals. In short, the best networking experiences can change you, whether that means introducing you to a new profession or altering your notions of how to conduct business.

Furthermore, no matter what your industry or role, networking helps you to refine your interpersonal communication skills. To network is by definition to expose yourself to a diverse group of professionals. Mastering the art of starting a conversation, asking engaging questions, listening attentively to responses and creating new connections in a variety of situations — these are all key components of establishing mutually beneficial business relationships.

New Opportunities


Networking isn't just about handing out business cards. It's about positioning yourself to make the most of the new opportunities that come with joining new conversations. These opportunities include client leads, partnerships, joint ventures, speaking opportunities and job leads, to name a few.

Just make sure you’re latching on to the opportunities that are right for you rather than grabbing at every opportunity you encounter. New opportunities should align with your business goals and vision. Otherwise you might find yourself on the path to what looks like a destination but is only a detour (or, worse, a dead end).

Also, be patient. It may take years for your opportunity to come to fruition. Tom Farley met NYSE president, Jeff Sprecher, in Atlanta in 2001. After that meeting, Farley stayed in contact with Sprecher through phone calls and emails. 12 years later, he succeeded Sprecher as NYSE president — something Farley concedes never would have happened if he hadn’t made an effort to cultivate this long-term relationship via regular communications.

Self-awareness

As a professional, who are you? What is your personal brand? Networking can help you answer these questions by building self-awareness. While networking, you are constantly perfecting how you present your talents, values, beliefs and range of experiences — and often in 30 seconds or less. You're also practicing the kind of confidence that can make you an attractive hire.

Lifelong Friendships

Through networking, it’s possible to establish friendships that can last a lifetime. Just like any friendship, these can be a source of knowledge, perspective or inspiration at those times when they’re most needed. Motivation, after all, often comes not from just within but from the world and the people who constitute our communities.

Assisting Others

Networking provides wonderful opportunities to “pay it forward.” The world is filled with business owners struggling with difficulties. Just as you've benefited from the support you've received from colleagues and peers, there's equal or greater satisfaction in helping someone in your network successfully overcome some obstacle they're facing.

At the Neeley School of Business, we provide our MBA students with a vast array of networking opportunities. These include executive presentations, C-level Confidential dinners, internships, national career fairs and access to an international cohort of successful TCU MBA alumni.

How will your MBA experience expand your network? Visit the Neeley School of Business website to see how our innovative curriculum and commitment to experiential learning help TCU students establish the professional connections they need to grow in their careers.

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