In today’s highly competitive job market, business relationships matter more than ever. Professional networking may be the single most important way to gather support and resources, whether for an entry-level employee or a mid-career professional. Cultivating a strong network of professional peers can provide everything from mentoring and training to employment opportunities. Staying connected via networking can also lead to business development and investment opportunities. Professional networking with current and former co-workers, business partners, civic and charitable organizations, fellow alumni, former professors and instructors, workshop leaders, community leaders and even informally with friends and family can be the key to a long, successful career.

Maintaining a Network

Mid-career professionals looking for career advancement or change should expand their networks. Old-fashioned, in-person professional networking is still an option for many working professionals. Networking opportunities include professional meetings, conferences, seminars, lectures, charitable causes, volunteer events and job fairs. Baylor University offers a variety of events for alumni to stay involved and connected. Professionals should consider joining business associations, leads groups, job clubs, diversity groups and alumni organizations, where they can also hand out contact cards to make themselves more memorable. Inviting others to meet for lunch or coffee is another way to cultivate connections; it is important to follow up with personal phone calls and emails.

Connecting Through Social Media

Social networking is widespread among business professionals today. Creating a social account on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is crucial for maintaining a network, where users can share content and opportunities in real time — LinkedIn even tracks changes in connections’ careers. Social media has revolutionized not only professional networking but job searching as well. Increasingly, job seekers use virtual networking in their search; in turn, companies use networking to find potential employees. Social media enables recruiters to find quality talent faster by engaging candidates, evaluating applicants, and showcasing employer brand.

Developing a Network Through Business School

Business schools offer great opportunities for professional networking, which is one of two main reasons for enrolling in this type of program, according to Top MBA. Networking with fellow classmates is an important part of any online MBA program, and business schools have made it easy for students to build contacts around the world. All top online MBA programs host networking events to help students meet employers and alumni from various industries. Additionally, a strong alumni network promotes communication that mentors current and recent graduates. Managed properly, an MBA alumni network can provide opportunities for years.

Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.