If you’re looking for a new job, you have doubtless heard the standard advice that you need to network. After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, right? But is networking really that effective? Is it right for you? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of networking.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Networking?
It is true that networking has several benefits. Depending on your own personal circumstances, these may include:
- Getting a foot in the door. If you want to work for a big-name company, competition will be stiff. Having a contact inside the organization to vouch for you can help you land an interview.
- Staying in touch. You probably have a long list of former coworkers and associates with whom you were on friendly terms but not necessarily close enough to exchange personal social media information. Professional networking sites let you keep up with each other and possibly work together again in the future without becoming personal friends.
- Learning and development. A major benefit of networking is the opportunity to learn from experts in your field, as well as those in fields with which you may not even be familiar. You never know where that increased knowledge could lead—perhaps even to a brand new career path!
- Getting out of your comfort zone. Social skills don’t come easily for many people. Networking lets you practice talking to relative strangers and navigating unfamiliar situations in a professional but low-stakes environment. Practicing these skills can help with everything from interviewing to getting started in a new job.
Like anything else, though, networking does have its own unique disadvantages:
- Time consuming. Networking is a long game that could take months or even years to translate into an actual job opportunity. If you need a new position now, you may be better off focusing your resources in other areas.
- Potentially ineffective. How effective networking actually is depends partly on your individual goals, but also on the luck of the draw. You could have a vast network and do everything “right,” but if no one in your network happens to have the lead that you need, you’ll still be out of luck.
- Constantly having your value evaluated. As much as it can feel like a community, the reality is that networking is ultimately a selfish game. You want to get as much as you can out of it. So does everyone else in your network. If you’re unable to provide value to your contacts on a regular basis, they may decide to remove you from their network. This can feel dehumanizing and even cause you to question your worth, though it’s not actually personal at all. If you tend to struggle with self-confidence, it may be better to avoid the networking game altogether.