I recently wrote about focusing on networking at a conference. There are plenty of people who will tell you why it’s good to network, and I’m now going to join them.
My primary reason is to find a job. No, I’m not specifically looking to leave my current job as I write this. This is the same reason I periodically update my LinkedIn profile. When I need to find a new job it’s too late to start networking and to update your resume. If you are connected to people that you work with and they see you suddenly update your profile after years of silence then you’ve just written your intentions in the sky (anyone can see it if they make the effort to look up from their own life). So when I need to make that jump, I’ve already partially prepared my landing pad.
Networking is also a great way to find out the story behind the headlines. Every news story is horribly skewed, both intentionally and unintentionally. If I know people at the place in question then I can get a more realistic perspective. When you cut past the hype then you can also find out if the new hotness is actually hot or just has a hot advertising department.
I can get the real story on how different workplaces work. And the more you find out how different successful places work the more you realize that there is no one way to become successful.
There are many more reasons to network, but the last I’ll mention is networking for fun. I have a great time meeting new people and can tell that they enjoy meeting me. Many people don’t network at conferences so it’s not uncommon for me to see the people I have met never talking to anyone else. By striking up a conversation I’ve made my day better, their day better, and earned a friendship. The anxiety over starting a conversation with a stranger is often a small price to pay for that reward.