Networking and getting ahead in your chosen career are all about the contacts you make. From the people you chat with in the break room to the clients you see every day and the professionals in the business associations you join, everyone is a potential helping hand for boosting your career.
Building strong relationships with your colleagues gives you advocates and sources for support inside an organization. Co-workers can acclimate you to the business, offer advice about corporate policy and help you troubleshoot common issues that arise in the office. Colleagues are also team members who strengthen your work on collaborative projects, allowing you to develop your skills and push yourself professionally. For example, if you're putting together the company’s annual report, and you’ve never compiled statistics before, having a contact in the research department can give you someone to walk you through the steps.
Managers and department heads in an organization are good contacts, both for your current work situation and in the future if one of you leaves the company and pursues a different professional opportunity. If you have internal contacts in high places, you know whom to call when you need an authority figure to point you in the right direction when you're working on a project or you need information about aspects of your job that overlap with that particular department. For example, having a contact in the accounting department is helpful if you need to quickly track down an unpaid invoice from a vendor in your own department.
Making contacts and building relationships with people high in the corporate structure allow you to identify potential mentors to help you with short -and long-term career planning. Knowing people also puts you on the radar of decision-makers, which is beneficial when you need support for a new idea you're pitching or you’re up for a promotion.
Clients and Vendors
Clients and vendors you work with on a regular basis can become excellent contacts, both in your current position and down the road in your professional life. For example, if you work with a reliable and cost-effective paper supplier when you're employed at one company, if you change jobs and you're responsible for recommending vendors in your new position, you'll already have someone you can confidently recommend. Building these contacts over the course of your career will give you a long list of valuable resources you can use in many capacities.
Participating in business and trade associations and getting involved with industry groups let you make contacts across a wide range of professions. These will help with future job-seeking efforts, building business-to-business sales relationships and having general knowledge about movers and shakers in your industry. Getting to know these people allows you to talk intelligently in a variety of professional circles.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.