Networking is a very important part of any individual’s professional life. A strong network will not only give your career a competitive edge, but also provide you with the opportunity to learn from people you admire and respect. Not to mention meeting some new and interesting people along the way.
When it comes to networking, most of the advice focuses on connecting with people who are senior and further along in their careers than you are. While there is a lot of value in establishing relationships with people who have walked the path before you, it is equally beneficial to build relationships with your peers.
What Exactly is a Network of Peers?
A peer network consists of people who are at a similar career stage as you. They may be your colleagues or people who work at other organizations within the same sector, fellow business owners, or people looking to establish new businesses.
How Your Network Can Help You Be Successful?
There are several benefits of having a peer network. Here are a few ways by which your peer network can help you succeed:
Access to Information & Best Practices
Your network can be a great resource to discuss ideas, opportunities or challenges you face in the day to day of your business. More than likely your peers are or have experienced the same type of situation and can provide insight into the situation as a whole. Your peers may also have other people in their network that they may be able to connect you with to help with your situation. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Your peer network can be an incredible support system for you. They can provide honest feedback on your ideas, create a safe space for you to share your fears and concerns, motivate you when you feel down and out, and also be your biggest cheerleaders.
Investing in the Future
You and peers will be far more established in their careers a few years down the line. They may be leaders, subject matter experts, and successful entrepreneurs in the future.
Investing in these relationships at the outset will ensure you will have access to them at a later stage when it might be more difficult to reach them.
Tips to Find and Communicate with People in your Position
You can begin with your workplace and connect with your colleagues. Industry-specific events, conferences, seminars, and forums are also a great way of finding people with similar interests and professional backgrounds.
Social media can also be leveraged to find people in similar professions, organizations, and career stages.
When you communicate with these people, make sure you underline why you’re looking to connect with them. What are some of the common interests or attributes between you and them, what are you looking to gain from this association, and what value can you add to their life?
Networking in Virtual Events
While networking in a virtual setting can be tricky, you can look at the attendee list to identify people you’d be interested in connecting with.
Share thoughtful comments and insights on the event platform. Participate actively in Q&As as well as break-out sessions organized as part of the event. Do also make time to follow up with people you interacted with through the events to continue the engagement.
Using Social Media for Networking
Social media is a really powerful tool. You can reach out to almost anyone across the globe. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to connect with professionals and industry leaders. You can also use Twitter and Instagram to follow thoughtful leaders and influencers and learn from what they have to share.
Peer networks can make a world of difference in your professional and personal life. Make sure you invest time in connecting with your peers.
An Outsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at: www.fmconsulting.net or www.youtube.com/gymconsultant.