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Why should I network?

By Helen Jerman

As business communicators, we know how to tell a story. But when it comes to networking- which, in large part, involves sharing our professional story - even the savviest communicator can become tongue-tied. That’s because networking often conjures up images of “working a room,” making tiresome small talk and engaging in shameless self-promotion. But authentic networking is different: It’s about building mutually beneficial professional relationships. Put that way, networking sounds a lot more attractive – and attainable.

Benefits of networking

At a recent networking event at Bitter Sisters Brewery, we asked some of our Dallas chapter members why they network. Here’s what they said:

  • To give back. You might think networking is a selfish pursuit. But building effective professional relationships starts with giving back – offering your time and talents to help others. The IABC Dallas Heroes volunteer program is an excellent networking outlet, matching you with volunteer activities within the chapter and with local nonprofits.

    “Working alongside fellow communicators is a great way to build a network and connect,” says Karen Reid, vice president of volunteer recruitment and recognition. “Many of our Heroes have found work or new directions as a result of joining the IABC Dallas Heroes.”

  • To expand your horizons. Lauryn Johnson, vice president of membership, enjoys networking to meet new people. “It’s not just about meeting future employers, but about expanding my network,” she says. Through IABC, Lauryn has met professionals in a range of disciplines, including internal and external communications, marketing, social media and analytics.

  • To find job opportunities. This is probably the most obvious reason to network, and it’s a benefit that IABC Dallas member Meagan Bubela has observed again and again. “I haven’t used IABC to find a job, but I’ve seen people find jobs through it,” she says, adding that she’s also seen employers fill key positions through IABC and other networking groups.

    Just ask Erin Paisan, vice president of sponsorships and a recipient of this year’s Pegasus Award, recognizing outstanding volunteer contributions. Erin landed a job after an IABC Nashville member told one of her connections about a job in Dallas. That opportunity proved to be a game-changer for Erin’s career, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the strength of her network.

  • To have fun! As if finding a rewarding job wasn’t enough, Erin says there’s another great reason to network: It’s fun! “My friends encouraged me to network,” she says, “but it took a bad thing happening – a layoff – to get me to actually do it.” And it’s a good thing she did: “IABC is the best professional association in Dallas … just the nicest, warmest group you’d ever meet.”

Invest the time, reap the rewards

Whether you’re connected to 15 people or 150, networking is a smart investment of your time and effort. It’s not rocket science, either: It can be as simple as striking up a conversation at a mixer, inviting someone for coffee or making an introduction. So get out there, and get networking!

 

 

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