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The key benefits of networking

Datum:07 juni 2024
Frederiek van Rij
Frederiek van Rij

Who are you and what is your job title?
My name is Frederiek van Rij and I work as a learning and development advisor and trainer (team ‘Leren en Ontwikkelen’, part of the HR & Health cluster of University Services). Besides that, I am currently the chair of YoungRUG.

This blog aims to inspire young professionals. What would you like to share with other early career professionals?
Do you remember the last time you landed a job through a friend or a connection? For me, this happened back in 2016. I was looking for a side job when a friend of mine, who was already employed at the University of Groningen (UG) as a student assistant, recommended me for a position. She had started working there through a mutual friend, who had learned about the job from her mother, who also worked at the UG. Fast forward two years, I found myself having coffee with one of my mother's colleagues, who had worked in a team where an interesting vacancy had just opened up. This conversation turned out to be excellent preparation for the interview that ultimately led to my first full-time job at the UG.

These examples illustrate the impact networking has had on my career. At the time, I wasn't even consciously leveraging my network, but looking back, it has been very beneficial. In this blog, I’ll share key benefits my network has brought to my career so far, and, hopefully, it will inspire you to tap into yours. 

Tip: If you know someone who can provide more information about a job you're interested in, arrange a coffee meeting with them.

  1. Letting people know what you want pays off

    There was a point when I craved more challenge at work. I wanted to take on more responsibility and I mentioned this to my supervisor. Coincidentally soon after, a project leader was needed in the department. Remembering my expressed desire for a challenge, my supervisor gave me the opportunity to lead the project. This opportunity likely wouldn't have come my way if I hadn't communicated my aspirations.

    Tip: Share your career goals with the right people in your network. They might think of you when relevant opportunities arise.

  2. Gaining insight into the opportunities within the UG

    After 4,5 years in the same role, I felt the need for a change but wasn't sure what that change should be. I started having networking conversations with various people within the UG. I reached out through a career counselor, colleagues, and my own contacts. These meetings provided valuable insights into the daily activities of colleagues with different job functions and how things work within the organization.

    Tip: Ask your contacts for recommendations on who to approach for networking conversations.
  3. Fun and job satisfaction

    When I began working at the UG, the YoungRUG events were a great way to connect with young professionals from other departments and faculties. I found it both enjoyable and enlightening to meet others who were also starting their careers. For me, YoungRUG became a network where I felt at home and found job satisfaction. You might find similar networks to meet people, learn things, and have fun. These networks don't have to be within the university as I can imagine that finding a network outside of work can contribute to a healthy work-life balance.

    Tip: Join a network that aligns with your interests and needs.

Leveraging my network has allowed me to pursue opportunities, gain valuable perspectives, and increase job satisfaction. These tips may seem obvious, but I hope that by reiterating them, they will serve as a source of inspiration for you.

What question would you like to ask other young professionals? Readers can answer this question in the comments below.
I've found that my network has been really helpful in securing opportunities without even realizing it. How have your connections played a role in your work?

Who do you pass this blog on to?
Manu Barba


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