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Denmark, where networking is key...

It can raise your professional profile, broaden your access to opportunities, gain satisfaction

from assisting and connecting with others in your network.

Photograph: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

It's taken me many years of living in Denmark to realise it's not what you know but who you know. Networking is KING in Denmark, and active networking is vital to career growth. Networking is actually about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. It involves meeting and getting to know people who you can assist, and who can potentially help you in return.

Networking doesn't only include your career but also friends and family to work colleagues, business connections, your social network and members of groups to which you belong.

Here are some key networking benefits:

#1 Strengthen business connections

Networking is about sharing, not taking. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship. By doing this, you sow the seeds for mutual assistance when you need help to achieve your goals.

#2 Get fresh ideas

Your network can be an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas to help you in your role. Exchanging information on challenges, experiences, and goals is a crucial benefit of networking because it allows you to gain new insights that you may not have otherwise thought of. Similarly, offering helpful ideas to a contact is an excellent way to build your reputation as an innovative thinker.

#3 Advance your career

Being visible and getting noticed is a benefit of networking that's essential in career building. Regularly attending professional and social events will help to get your face known. You can then help to build your reputation as being knowledgeable, reliable and supportive by offering useful information or tips to people who need it.

#4 Access to job opportunities

Expanding your contacts can open doors to new opportunities for business, career advancement, personal growth, or new knowledge. Active networking helps to keep you top of mind when opportunities such as job openings arise and increases your likelihood of receiving introductions to potentially relevant people or even a referral.

#5 Interconnected business contacts = more knowledge

Networking is an excellent opportunity to exchange best practice knowledge, learn about the business techniques of your peers and stay abreast of the latest industry developments. A vast network of informed, interconnected contacts means broader access to new and valuable information.

#6 Find a job you love

Professional networking opens many doors in the form of career advice, lasting relationships, and even landing your dream role. You never know who might be hiring for your ideal job, or know someone who is, and the more people you have in your network, the likelier you are to be the first to know when those dream job opportunities pop up.

So, how do you network?

As much as networking is beneficial to your career and even your personal life, the reality is that it doesn't come naturally to many people. In fact, for some, the thought of starting a conversation incites downright dread.

A good rule of thumb is to plan ahead and have a few relevant points of discussion in mind if you know you're going to be in a situation where you'll have the opportunity to meet new people. These conversation points don't have to be all about work – they can even be about topics like hobbies or the event itself. The idea is to get the conversation flowing and leave room for future meetups and discussions. On that note, don't forget to bring business cards so you can swap details easily.

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