In 2017, LinkedIn surveyed more than 15,000 users
to determine just how much they valued online networking. Approximately 79% of respondents said that they think professional networking is incredibly valuable for improving one’s career. At 61%, most participants also believed that “regular online interaction” with connections can lead to career opportunities.
But what’s startling is that, while people believed (dare I say knew) that networking could lead to the next best thing in their career, nearly half of all respondents didn’t act on that belief (knowledge). So a lot of us believe that online networking can help our careers. But how, exactly? Check out these eight ways that networking online can help take your career to new heights.
1. Job opportunities
Networking online can help you find new career opportunities in a variety of ways. For one, the network connections you follow on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn may advertise a job they or someone they know is hiring. Or, someone you’re connected to online may send a job posting your way that they believe would suit your qualifications.
Or, you might even post on your own page that you’re looking for a new position or work at a specific company (whether you’re still in a job or not). Your connections can reply with postings, advice, and support, or they might send you in the direction of people they know at a company you’re interested in or who are hiring in your field.
All of these instances can happen if you network online. LinkedIn published survey results in 2016 that found that 85% of all jobs
are filled (not just applied) through networking.
And by opening up your network to professional and personal social media, you cast a broader net that can bring in more opportunities.
2. Recognition from recruiters, hiring managers, and employers
The more network connections you have, the more opportunities that are likely to come your way. In that same vein, having more connections means you’re more likely to connect with someone in charge of hiring. In addition, online networking allows you to meet hiring folks in different companies, including those you’d like to work for.
Just like you hang out in the digital spaces related to your industry, so do recruiters and employers. One part of networking is sharing content on your pages, replying to comments, and commenting on other people’s posts to gain visibility. And when you do, you’re more likely to be seen by hiring professionals looking for helpful and knowledgeable candidates like you.
3. A digital business card
When you’re active on social media and share content related to your industry and experience, you create a unique sort of digital business card. A traditional business card would have your name, title, and contact information. Still, a digital business card built through online networking efforts provides connections and potential employers more information about your passion, knowledge, and actions in the industry. And when a recruiter finds you through your digital business card, they know more about you than what’s on your resume.
4. Connections with industry leaders and influencers
It can be more challenging to meet and connect with industry leaders and influencers
in traditional, in-person networking. You’d have to try to get a few moments of their time after a conference, seminar, or another networking event. But with online networking, you can start to connect with them just by being active in the comment threads of their posts. That’s because you’re more likely to catch their attention when you’re helpful and knowledgeable to others and participating more often.
And I know this to be true! My co-host Emil and I have seen how people can make professional and personal connections
when active in comment threads, and online communities are another great place to connect with industry leaders.
5. Access to a wide variety of ideas, information, and resources
Online networking involves being a part of different online communities where you can meet and talk to people with the same interests, passions, and goals as you. In these communities, you get the chance to read other people’s insights about industry trends and issues. You can see how others are changing the game. You can even find new people and publications that provide you even more information and knowledge. And you can take this knowledge to find better roles, stay current with significant trends or boost your qualifications.
6. Self-reflection on your qualifications
When you connect with other professionals in your industry, you learn about their experience and qualifications. This gives you a great opportunity to ensure that your qualifications match (or beat) others in your industry, especially those working in the role or level you want to move into next.
It’s a humbling experience that helps you determine if you need to brush up on old skills or learn new ones, gain a certification or earn an advanced degree so you can advance into the next level of your career. You can even find out what makes you stand out from others, too.
7. Access to mutual connections
When you connect with coworkers, colleagues, and strangers in your industry online, you also get access to their network connections. These people that know the same people you know are called mutual connections.
And you never know who these mutuals could be. Your coworker may have worked for a company you want to work for in the future and is connected to an HR rep or the department manager. Or, maybe a friend of yours happens to be friends with an executive or manager in your industry.
8. Overcome traditional networking barriers
When it comes to traditional, in-person networking, you may be limited with who you’re able to meet. That’s because your network starts when you’re young and grows as you do. Say you grew up in an affluent area where your parents worked in big businesses and had colleagues in the field, go to an Ivy League college, and do an internship in a big company’s finance department. You’ve likely got some great connections that you’ve gained through the in-person networks available to you throughout your life.
However, if you didn’t grow up in an affluent area, you wouldn’t start with the same kinds of connections that you could use as a resource later on. If you didn’t go to an Ivy League college, you wouldn’t have the same affluent and successful connections. And if you didn’t go to college at all, your traditional networking may have been limited to the current job or industry you’re in, which may not be where you want to stay.
Online networking breaks down those barriers by allowing you to follow industry leaders, interact with their content, make intentional friendships with their followers (and maybe even them, too!), and build a network without a few to no limits.
What else is great about online networking is that it can be more convenient than attending networking events in person. According to a study done by Forbes
, 92% of people reported that it saves time, 88% said that it’s cheaper, 78% said that it allows you more flexibility with timing, and 64% and 55% respectively believe that online networking will enable you to multitask and positively influence productivity.
All that said, there’s no time like the present to take advantage of all of these tremendous benefits and become more active in online networking to further your career.