How to create a business network (and why it's important)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 17 June 2022 | Published 3 January 2022
Updated 17 June 2022
Published 3 January 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A business network constitutes the professional relationships you form during your career, whether through work or higher education. During this period, you can cultivate relationships with various individuals, such as managers, colleagues and tutors. Understanding how to best use such contacts to progress your career can help you be successful in the future. In this article, we offer useful tips on how you might create a business network and explain how you can benefit from doing so.
How to create business network connections
Whatever industry you work in, you can use your contacts to create business network connections to highlight certain professional qualities, such as technical knowledge or your soft skills. You can then more easily convince employers to hire you, boosting your opportunities for career advancement.
A good place to start is by using positive body language to reassure contacts that you're a confident and trustworthy person. For example, during a job interview, you might subtly mimic your counterpart's actions, such as their posture or vocal tone. You may then more easily build a rapport with the interviewer, boosting your odds of securing a position. The following section provides more useful tips on how to create a business network:
1. Use professional social media
Consider setting up a work-related social media profile, detailing your past work experience and the skills you accrued as a result. By doing so, you ensure employers can understand your professional qualities without confusion, increasing the chances that they might invite you for an interview. You can also easily update your profile as your career progresses.
2. Job search online
You might also use these platforms to connect to individuals and firms with similar professional profiles. For example, if you work in corporate finance, you may follow companies operating within your sector to remain abreast of their business activities. They might then notify you if they make a new position available, creating further opportunities for career progression.
3. Be respectful to colleagues
You can also build a business network by staying abreast of coworkers' duties, offering to help them if they're struggling at work. By taking this attitude, you show that you're an empathic person, willing to inconvenience yourself to aid others. You may then more easily develop genuine social connections based on mutual trust and respect.
4. Learn future company ethics
You may also create new professional relationships by conducting interpersonal interactions in a considerate and honest way. You might study the company's code of ethics to recognise what behaviour is appropriate for an office environment. It's also useful to answer colleagues' emails immediately, to ensure you can act on their requests in short order. By showing consideration for colleagues' interests, you might earn their respect in turn.
5. Project confidence
You might develop a wider network of contacts by approaching professional responsibilities with confidence, to ensure you're able to compete with rival jobseekers. You accrue confidence by setting regular professional goals to improve your interpersonal relationships gradually. For example, if you're a shy person, you might offer to help colleagues at least once per day to demonstrate your professional strengths, such as key skills. As you repeat this process, you might find it easier to communicate with another person, establishing closer working relationships as a result.
Related: How to build confidence at work
6. Attend careers fairs
If you're applying for high-skilled positions, you may better connect with employers by attending an industry-specific career fair. Here you can speak directly to senior officials, enquiring about a position's specifications and answering personal questions in return. You can then compare different job openings, before applying for the posts best suited to your professional ambitions.
7. Seek out local seminars
You can also use local workshops or seminars as an opportunity to demonstrate your professional strengths, such as related key skills or certifications you've earned. For example, if an employer asks how you may respond to a specific scenario, you can relate your answer to your own skills, highlighting how you're the ideal candidate for a role. If you're then offered the position, you might use this pre-established relationship to integrate yourself into your new workplace.
Related: Networking tips for job seekers
8. Adapt your own skills
It's also important that you're able to adapt your own skills to industry changes, such as new technologies or working practices. By constantly developing your professional profile, you can maintain commercial demand for your skills even as firms transition to new operating methods. You might then remain useful to employers long-term, enhancing your business network as a result.
9. Invest in professionally recognised training
You can pursue several strategies to adapt your skills to industry changes. For example, you might undertake accredited training schemes to learn how to integrate new technologies into work duties, such as AI. You may also draft a personal development plan, detailing steps you may take to develop new qualifications and how to complete them.
Why is it useful to establish a network of professional contacts?
By cultivating your professional contacts, you can create new opportunities for career progression. You might then increase your earning potential. The following section offers reasons why it's useful to build a broad network of professional contacts:
Gain a future reference
As mentioned earlier, you can ask a trusted contact to provide a professional reference when you're applying for new roles. You might then show prospective employers that you're a capable and hardworking individual, deserving of due consideration during the hiring process. If you're a close associate of your referee, you might also ask them to prioritise certain aspects of your career profile, depending on an employer's specifications. You can then ensure that you're portrayed in the manner most likely to attract the reader's attention.
Develop a rounded perspective
By constructing a wider business network, you come into contact with a diverse range of people, each with a unique perspective on life. By collaborating with others, you might develop a more rounded outlook on work, integrating different practices into your daily routine. You can then establish a broader set of skills, increasing your overall utility to employers.
Help out colleagues
You may also broaden your professional perspective by offering to help colleagues, particularly when they're struggling with a heavy workload. By sometimes prioritising others' needs, you might gain more empathy for their predicaments. You might then use this insight to develop new work processes to ensure the representation of different viewpoints. You may impress your manager with this responsible attitude, boosting your chances of earning a promotion.
Boost general productivity
If you can establish a mutually trusting relationship with colleagues, you might find that they're more willing to help you during stressful periods. You might then focus on your immediate tasks, reassured that you can avoid staying late to complete extra work. You may also offer to repay this favour later on. As you streamline responsibilities with colleagues, you may contribute to creating a more productive workplace long-term.
You may also boost productivity by regularly interacting with members of your business network, whether on a professional or social basis. By building strong interpersonal relationships, you may feel more able to share ideas at work, without fear of ridicule or misinterpretation. You might then more easily collaborate to identify solutions to creative problems, boosting general productivity as a result.
Demonstrate your teamwork skills
During a hiring process, employers often appraise candidates based on their attitude as much as technical skills or education. You might use your professional network to demonstrate that you're capable of working closely with colleagues, without risk of conflict. You may then convince employers that you're well-placed to help develop a cooperative workplace culture, increasing your attractiveness relative to rival applicants.
You can also use a business network to attract headhunters' attention, creating new opportunities for career advancement. For example, if you're close with a former colleague or manager, you may ask them to submit your details to management figures at their organisation. If your professional profile impresses them, they may invite you to interview. If you're successful, you can then secure a higher-paying job. You may also use work-related social media to attract headhunters, carefully tailoring your profile to fit their specifications.
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