As I'm prepping to give a presentation on networking at the North American Student Symposium (SPE), one of the challenges was articulating the importance of networking throughout people's careers. Sure I know the benefits, however, it begins to get difficult when trying to formulate and articulate the benefits as there are so many different tangents and paths one can go down. We'll begin today with an understanding of WHY we should continue to network and some of the negative consequences when we don't.
Networking is one of the most important aspects of career development. It is a key tool for building professional and personal relationships, making connections, and establishing a strong personal brand. From knowing the best mud motor to the best breakfast tacos to knowing a solid reservoir engineer for a new opening, even to a good mechanic: networking opens up access to the outside world and can make your life easier and you more efficient. When we start our careers, normally we are young and attend most young professional networking happy hours. However as time goes on, and jobs take on new responsibilities, networking takes the back seat. As people's careers develop and they become more established in their roles, however, many tend to take their focus on networking and meeting new people for granted. Unfortunately, this can lead to a number of negative consequences for both employees and individuals.
Starting our careers, the majority land our first role from what we know. We went to school to study X, and here is an entry-level job doing X. However, at a certain point in people's careers, it becomes clear that it's not just what you know, it's who you know. This held true during the pandemic when so many good and talented people lost their work, and the ones who would land new roles often had an insider's edge to the company, giving them an advantage over thousands of resumes submitted via email. Having a strong network can open doors to new opportunities, provide valuable insights, and even give you a competitive edge in your field. Without a well-established network, you are likely to miss out on valuable connections, opportunities, and resources.
When you stop networking, you run the risk of becoming isolated and disconnected from the pulse of your industry and your community. Your knowledge and understanding of current trends and best practices may become outdated, making it more difficult to stay relevant and competitive. There may be new technology or industry insight opportunities you may miss out on for not being in the know (or connected to someone in the know). In addition, your personal brand can suffer if you are not actively engaged in the conversation and building relationships with others in your field.
From an employee's perspective, the negative consequences of not networking can be even more pronounced. If you are not actively seeking new opportunities and making connections, you are likely to miss out on promotions, raises, opportunities, and other career advancements. Your lack of exposure to new ideas and perspectives can also limit your ability to contribute to your organization in meaningful ways, further hampering your professional growth. Plus, when you begin to feel unsatisfied with your current role, having a strong network connects you to other opportunities you may find more fulfilling.
In conclusion, it is clear that networking is an essential component of career development and personal growth. Whether you are just starting out in your career or are well-established in your field, staying active in networking is crucial for building relationships, staying connected, and maintaining your personal brand. By neglecting this important aspect of professional life, you are likely to miss out on valuable opportunities and experiences, as well as experience a decline in your personal and professional growth. So, take the time to invest in your network, and watch your career soar!