In business we learn how to network with influencers, with movers and shakers and we learn how to network with those in the know, resource centers if you like. That’s all well and good, however one of the most important aspects of networking is the importance of networking with your peers. Who exactly are peers, well these are people at about the same level of education and experience as you that are in the same or similar fields of work as you are. However, often they have different experiences, it’s these differences that will help you get further in your career than you might think.
You’ll get the best advice and support from your peers is that:
Similarity Breeds Trust
It stands to sense that you’re going to have a lot more in common with your peers than people much further along or not as far along as you in your career. Due to these shared factors you’ll feel more trusting and be able to open more easily to each other.
Collective Experience Goes Far
Even if you’re on the same education level and career level as your peers, you still have difference experiences that can be shared and that you all can learn from. You might each have been exposed to different software packages, different ways of doing the same job, for example, and can help each other discover new avenues and tools that you couldn’t learn from someone else at a different level.
You Will Increase Exposure to Who They Know (and Vice Versa)
Successfully networking with your peers will allow you to grow your network as you both share your contacts with each other. This means that when you are trying to get a job, a contract or a way in to a particular company often your peers can recommend you. A peer recommending you is a massive advantage when it comes to getting hired.
You’ll Learn New Things about Your Niche
You can’t read everything or know everything, and neither can your peers. But, if you are all reading and learning and connecting, the shared collective knowledge can add up to increased understanding and can lead you to breakthroughs and ways of doing things you would not normally think of.
In order to build a network of peers:
Search for Them on Social Media
Want a particular job title, or to add a particular service to your offerings to clients? Search for the people who are doing whatever it is that you want to do on social media. Find them, follow them, connect with them and converse with them so that you can become part of their social circles. LinkedIn springs instantly to mind as a place you need to be, but Twitter is also higher effective at allowing you to engage with your peers.
Start Discussions with Them
As always when you want to start a discussion ask leading questions that get more than yes or no answers, and answer questions with more than a yes or no. If you’re part of a group of professionals who do what you do, participate fully in discussions and advice.
Go to Niche-Focused Events
Don’t forget live events, and webinars, you can learn a lot if you’re in a room full of people who do what you do. Remember that even if you’re in the same niche, you may not do things exactly the same or with the same tools. You can learn a lot about what’s coming in terms of trends or what’s popular and up and coming in the niche if you stay informed with and by your peers.
Share Resources Freely
Don’t be afraid of competition; share your resources and contacts freely as the information is needed and comes up. Of course, you want to be sure you know someone well enough before recommending them for a position or contract, but you don’t want to be afraid to spread the word about a peer who is awesome. They just might do the same for you someday.
It might seem counterproductive to network with and get advice and support from your competition, but that can often be where you will find the best advice as well as support. I know I have some great friends that give me any advice I need, and who I trust totally and these people started out as my competitors. It’s just a case of remembering, they understand you better than anyone else. Plus, it’s often easier to learn from someone who is closer to your own level in education when they know something a little different from you.