Business professionals around the world are told that building and maintaining relationships are critical skills. This wisdom passed from generation to generation rarely leads to discussions of why networking is important to long-term success. A 2017 survey conducted by LinkedIn found approximately 70 percent of respondents were hired after reaching out to their networks rather than using traditional job search tools. With 15,905 respondents from 17 countries, LinkedIn’s findings provide strong motivation to build a global network.
As your career progresses, it is important to look beyond your city, province, and country to create a business network. A global business network helps entry-level professionals find their first jobs and executives find new opportunities around the world. An international network of contacts also helps startups and established companies alike reach new markets. Aston University’s online MBA program helps students from Canada and beyond develop skills necessary to succeed in the global economy.
Trends in Professional Networking
In 2010, Entrepreneur published an article on three networking trends to watch in the near future. The most important trend to watch was the increasing specialization of online networking tools based on industry. Entrepreneur also projected an increase in consultants and companies specializing in global business networking due to an absence of formal training. The article also noted that attempts to organize various networking tools into associations would falter due to the desire for flexibility by young professionals.
We can fast forward to a 2017 article published by Mountain Pacific Association of Colleges & Employers to evaluate progress in professional networking. This article on millennial networking suggests that business contacts are created across multiple platforms including chats and social media. These networks are sustained across generations by ensuring that participants are allowed to share feedback and have their voices heard. The 2017 article also suggests that traditional forms of networking are unpopular among young professionals because they are inefficient. From 2010 to 2017, business networking evolved from translating old forms of networking into new technology to focusing on intuitive forms of relationship building.
Building Your Network
Julia Hobsbawm at Editorial Intelligence published an infographic in 2017 that placed global business networking into perspective. Hobsbawm found that 25 percent of professionals don’t actively network with other professionals at home or abroad. She concluded that 41 percent of professionals don’t spend as much time as they wish on networking because they are too busy. The infographic also says that 51 percent of professionals don’t use LinkedIn, one of the largest business networks available in the U.S. and Canada.
Hobsbawm offers recommendations for achieving success through business networking. A professional should try to cultivate contacts with approximately 150 people to maximize their network’s strengths. Every professional should stay on top of industrial and economic news to bring value to their conversations with contacts. You should also express interest and help others to maintain your relationships. Hobsbawm suggests holding one-on-one meetings with at least five people per week to sustain your closest contacts. She also argues that everyone should spend at least 20 percent of working time on sustaining these relationships.
Whether you are working in Prince Edward Island or Vancouver, you can follow Hobsbawm’s advice thanks to the power of online networks. You can also pursue an online MBA program to strengthen your resume while networking with colleagues around the world. Aston University features a two-year MBA program based in the United Kingdom with a global reach.
Building a business network in the 21st century demonstrates your credentials in real time. Your resume provides a glimpse at your career but does not show your skills or personality in motion. PayScale suggests that 40 percent of hires draw on referrals from employees, while traditional applicants are only hired seven percent of the time based on referrals. An in-house contact is more likely to refer your credentials for a position if they see you making moves rather than sending a standard cover letter and resume.
Active participation in social media networks shows your business skills in action. LinkedIn might seem like the obvious choice for building a business network, but it shouldn’t be your only networking tool. LinkedIn has 10 million users in Canada out of a population of 35.7 million residents. These figures pale in comparison to the 23.6 million users of Facebook in Canada, which features plenty of groups devoted to business networking. You could also cultivate relationships via the 10.4 million Instagram users and 7.4 million Twitter users in Canada. Your online networking efforts can reach different audiences and show your personal brand to prospective employers.
Professionals in Canada can also use in-person networking opportunities and shared workspaces to build connections. Meetup is a platform that allows professionals to host networking opportunities with people in their communities. This platform features networking events in Canadian cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, and Toronto. Coworking spaces throughout the country allow you to get work done while meeting fellow entrepreneurs who can join your global business network. Spaces like L’Atelier Vancouver and My ByWard Office in Ottawa are ideal for startups and entrepreneurs who want to blend relationship building with work.
Global Business Networking Outcomes
We can loop back to the 2017 LinkedIn survey to see the outcomes of global business networks. Seventy-nine percent of survey takers said that their professional networks were essential to new business opportunities. LinkedIn found 61 percent of respondents got the ball rolling on potential business opportunities by reaching out directly to contacts. These contacts were not always business first with 35 percent of respondents finding new work through informal chats.
A global business network takes time to build but yields results as you look for new jobs, business partners, and untapped markets. As an early career professional, you need to build your skill set so that you don’t need to worry about the basics while networking. Aston University’s online MBA program teaches courses in global business and organizational development that help you compete for business around the world.