There are incalculable benefits to networking. From the statistics alone, professionals in every industry can agree that networking is vital. 61% of professionals found new job opportunities through networking. 95% of people feel stronger business relationships are due to in-person meetings. Yet, only 25% of professionals network, and 41% feel they don’t have the time to.
Routinely making the meet-and-greet circuit can be costly and time-consuming. But the value is too great to ignore completely. Fortunately, in the digital age, there are alternative ways to meet people and create new connections.
Make it part of your routine
Networking does not always have to be lunch and night events where you’re collecting piles of business cards. Twenty minutes to send some emails or shoot a message through LinkedIn also qualifies as networking. The real question you need to ask yourself is how much time can you spend on networking. Think about your schedule on the average week. If you take public transportation, consider using that time to search for events. If you work from home, set an hour every month to go to one virtual networking event. Choose whatever is realistic for your schedule. Eventually, networking will become a habit.
Meet people around you
There are thousands of professionals around you. You can invite your coworkers out to lunch or drinks after work. Invite local women entrepreneurs to brunch. Invite your mentor to bring someone to your next meeting. Anyone who you think is interesting or want to get to know better is an opportunity to grow your network.
Local community groups
If you are interested in becoming part of an existing network, consider joining local communities. They have regular meetings that consistently offer networking opportunities even if you can’t make them all. For example, parent associations or school functions are a great way to meet other moms. There are also websites or apps, like Meetup.com or Nextdoor, with lists of local groups you can join.
If you are looking for professional women’s communities, there are IAW local chapters around the globe. Our chapters provide an opportunity for like-minded professional women to connect locally and are a valuable opportunity for you to promote your business, product or service, share your ideas and experiences, and to locate resources and support. The IAW community will help you to dream, rise and lead.
Virtual Networking Opportunities
One of the most time intensive parts of networking is finding the right people. There is no guarantee that local groups can make the connections you need. If you’re looking for something more specific, then there are virtual alternatives that allow you to connect with people without leaving your office. For many busy professionals, this is the only way networking will happen.
Social media groups are one way to find specific people that correlate with your industry or interests. LinkedIn has many communities based around computer programs, industries, recruiters, and more with discussion boards. Facebook is another great place to look for local communities you can engage with online. For example, check out IAW’s facebook page here!
For more networking advice, download our free resource “10 Tips for Building a Network that Works for You” at the button below. Or check out IAW’s weekly events and sign up for a virtual networking opportunity with professional women today!