John Ainley: Why networking when you’re in work is just as important as when you’re looking for work

It’s an irony that when someone is out of employment and looking for a job they network hard but find it more difficult because fewer doors are open; when in employment however, networking is easier to do – those doors seem to swing open invitingly – but because it seems less necessary, people tend to drop it down the list of their life and work priorities.

This does a disservice to the value of networking that goes well beyond the transactional nature of finding a job. For senior leaders, whether employed or not, networking can be a hugely valuable way of opening the mind to new ways of doing things.

Networking refuels and enriches

In a draining, fast paced environment, networking can refuel and enrich when there is a danger of falling into the same old way of doing things. I’ve talked about the experience blindfold before where over time we lose our natural curiosity and risk failing to adapt to new ways of doing things. Networking can be just the disruptive influence needed to break that ‘comfortable’ mould; exchanging ideas and meeting others facing many of the same challenges.

Think of that industry event as less about meeting people and collecting business cards – remember them? – but more like firing up your mind with new thoughts and possibilities. See its true value and you’re more likely to gain from a wider, more valuable experience, and less likely to see networking as simply part of a job hunting exercise.