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There are generally two different attitudes people carry when thinking about networking or attending networking events. While many people find it exciting to meet like-minded professionals in their industries, others enter with apprehension and insecurities. That being said, networking is one of the best ways to connect with individuals who could lead to a job referral down the road, or even offer excellent business advice towards your current projects. Statistics in 2016 showed that 70% of people hired at a new company had a connection there. It is in the best interest of every professional to spend some time improving their networking skills and networking as often as possible.

Networking can take practice, especially for those who are more reserved. Best practice is to enter with a strategy. If time permits, try to do some research before attending an event. If you can view the guest list before the event, you have an opportunity to distinguish who you would like to connect with. Keep a few conversation starters in your head, and enter with a positive attitude. Showing up is often the hardest part! Once you decide to network with individuals, whether at an event or through social media properties such as LinkedIn, you’ll benefit in several ways, including the following:

New contacts and referrals

One of the main intentions of networking is to leave with new connections. Networking provides an excellent opportunity to identify potential partners, joint ventures, and referrals, no matter what industry you are in. It is an excellent way to get your name out there and increase your visibility.

Advice and Resources

Speaking with others about your industry or projects you are working on can provide an extra set of eyes and ears, along with new ideas and advice for issues you may be struggling with. For business purposes, networking can be a great way to meet professionals that can provide resources to your company.

Staying Current

As industries continue to evolve, it can be challenging to keep up with new technology, software, and equipment. Speaking with others can provide a way to learn about new procedures that are effective or point you away from practices that haven’t worked well for others.

Overall, whether for business or professional purposes, networking is an ideal way to achieve long-term success. The camaraderie and boosted morale one can receive at an event may be just the recharge needed to gain motivation in upcoming endeavors.