The power of networking – Business West | Region & Cash

It can be challenging, but it’s a great way to take the initiative

By Lauren Foley

After graduating from college and entering the workforce, there are countless opportunities and lessons to be learned as a young woman in the business world. The expectations and possibilities of a first job are not always communicated in class.

While some of these expectations are directly related to skills and job functions, more intangible expectations are expected of people entering the business world. Soft skills such as expanding your reach, building a customer base and developing relationships are highly valued and weighted in business careers. As women in business, we want to empower ourselves to grow our careers and position ourselves for success. It is imperative that we champion our career path and increase our value in our chosen professions. Well, how does a new woman enter the job market and gain growth in her career in these fields? It’s easy networking.

Lauren Foley

“The purpose of networking is to connect with other business people to build work and professional relationships. Connections can provide many opportunities for young professionals, from client referrals, job opportunities, event sponsorship, recognition of achievements and even learning opportunities.”

Before you get started, the first step is to understand the basic goal of networking. The purpose of networking is to make connections with other business people to build work and professional relationships. Connections can provide many opportunities for young professionals, ranging from client referrals, job opportunities, event sponsorship, achievement recognition, and even learning opportunities. The positive results go even further. By forging connections with other people in similar positions, you create a new network of people who can provide resources to one another and connections that allow each other to grow.

Where do you network, how do you do it and why? Want to connect with a specific person who is influential in your field or community? Are you looking for an introduction to a specific ministry that would be necessary to advance your career? Are you looking for more opportunities to be more involved and of service in your community? It’s important to understand why you’re attending each event before committing. Networking can take place in many different atmospheres, such as B. at a barbecue, an award ceremony or a congress. Your choice of events to attend should align with your purpose for networking. When seeking a referral source, individuals should seek a working relationship. A working relationship refers to the idea that if the other person’s customer needed a service you provided, they would refer the customer to you and vice versa. Those looking for a working relationship should attend a networking event sponsored or hosted by a local organization that will also be attended by other business people in the area – think a trade show, chamber of commerce or certain public forums . If the purpose of networking is to find new customers, then attending a local business event or young professional event where others are just beginning their careers is the perfect place to build fundamental relationships that lead to attraction could result from customers.

It is particularly important for young professionals to feel empowered at networking events. It can sometimes feel easier to stick with the people you know at an event than to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. A good approach to avoiding this problem is to search the room, remember your purpose, and use the buddy system to target new people. Using the buddy system allows both people to have more confidence when they start networking as they can lean on each other and still meet new people.

Remember that there are many ways to network and some events may work better for you than others depending on your personality and overall expectations. There are also events that offer a more specific networking purpose than others, so it’s always important to note the history of events to determine if they’re worth your time in the future.

It’s a great best practice to engage internally with event attendees to get their feedback. Who did everyone meet? What did you like about the event? Were there any important follow-up tasks after the event? What was the overall result? A quick internal chat after the event can add value to your networking efforts, as you’ll remember who to follow up with and, as mentioned, weigh up whether you’d like to attend again in the future.

Overall, networking as a young woman can be challenging, but it’s a great way to take the initiative to advance our own careers. It can help you advance your career faster while improving your customer service and relationship skills. While the benefits don’t feel immediate, networking is a great way to make a name for yourself, create learning points, and gain opportunities as a young professional. So understand the value you could receive by meeting the right person and start planning what matters most to you and your career. It’s a skill that takes time to learn, so practice makes perfect and get out there and stretch your ‘net’.

Lauren Foley is an associate with Holyoke-based accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, PC

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