Business is always about people. It doesn’t matter what you make, what you sell or what service you provide, ultimately you are in the business of people.

This means every single one of us needs to be able to network

For many, the word “networking” may conjure up images of early starts, boring conference rooms, name badges and mediocre coffee.  However, networking doesn’t just mean formal, membership-only networking groups. Networking is primarily about establishing and building relationships with other people.  People who may be influential in your industry, who may have an expertise you don’t have but need to tap in to, who you might want to buy from, sell to or collaborate with.

However, it doesn’t have to solely mean people who are external to your business or work environment.  What about the people who work with you?  It doesn’t matter if it’s your business, and these people are your staff (though, you should automatically be networking with them), or you’re that member of staff.  No matter who you are, where you are in your career, or what you do, you should be establishing and building relationships with your co-workers. With all that said, here are our top 3 reasons why we think YOU should be networking.

#1 – Learn

Whilst this might not feature on some people’s lists of priorities, here at People Matters we think it’s the most important reason.

When you network, whether internally or externally, you can’t help but learn. It might be learning what another department does and how your role fits in to the overall structure of an organisation. You may also want to improve upon skills like handling mileage or expense claims by focusing on these areas, which will benefit you professionally as well!  Perhaps you’ll pick up tips for managing long term absences at work.

Whatever it is, and whatever the situation, there is always the chance to learn – whether formally through workshops, more casually through learning points and other member presentations, or by asking individuals specific questions.

Frankly, if you’re networking, and not learning, then you’re doing it wrong and missing a huge piece of the puzzle.

#2 – Get leads, referrals and generate more business.

This will be most people’s primary reason or networking, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  If we’re talking about a business owner or sales manager going out to network then it needs to be financially viable.  You will lose time, as well as have to pay for your membership, so you have to feel like you’re getting something back.

Of course, that something doesn’t always have to be financial gain – but who doesn’t want referrals or leads?  The key here though is that those things don’t happen overnight.  You cannot expect to pay your first month’s membership fee and suddenly get £25,000 of new business.  You have got to build and develop those relationships, and that can take months. Allow people to get to know you, trust you, and then they can feel confident in putting your name forward on your behalf.

#3 – Staying social

If you’re a solo-preneur, or even if you work in a larger organisation, the social aspects of networking can be good for everyone.  Working for yourself can feel very isolating at times. Networking gives you the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other people, to realise others have the same problems you do (as well as tips on how to solve them) and there are often chances to get out and about and do something different.

In a team of three, the chances are you’re not going to spring for a Christmas do.  However, find a few other people in the same boat and before you know it you have a proper gathering of people with similar interests. It’s a great way to expand your horizons and maybe even have a little fun.