We love our business networking buddies and our social networking friends. But there are differences between business networking and social networking.
A critical component of business networking is knowing where the jobs are that fit your job skills. Having a successful business network means you learn about job opportunities opening up before the job is posted, placed on a job board or even posted with HR. This is a significant advantage to you as you can often shape the job requirements to your skills or have the hiring manager know of your interest before the job is actually posted.
Business, at its most basic, is still a social interaction — with the distinction of it also being about money, whether the money is earned for a salary or earned for a profit. Having a good business network means that you will also know how other companies are doing in your competitive space and what changes are occurring in your industry.
Industry knowledge can be a significant differentiator when interviewing for jobs because you can use examples from other companies in the industry to show that you understand company business drivers and innovations. You are a source of good information, an industry expert.
People who do not have an extensive business network, inside the company or out, fail to see the early warning signs of disaster in the making. They miss the fact that the department or the company is missing their budget numbers. Or that their competitor just won a big deal that their company also bid on. Or that their competitor introduced a product that is killing their own product. Having a significant business network, especially inside your current employer, gets you early warning information that isn’t even yet covered in the news.
I’m not advocating releasing proprietary company information. But a good business networker can read between the lines of what is said to get some magnitude of what is happening in their work space.
Business networking is different than social networking because the focus is different. You can have significant business network contacts that have nothing to do with your social life. Your social life can have both, of course.
The mistake many people make is that they think because they have 2,000 friends on Facebook that it means they have a business network to help them find jobs, understand their industry and have an early warning system.
They could, of course. But the function of a business network is a much tighter focus on work than a social network. In this day and age, knowing you have a business network, not just a social network, is critical to your long-term career success.
How good is your business network? How do you know?