Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or employee for a large company, it’s easy to feel alone and/or misunderstood in your career. And though it won’t solve everything, building up a professional network around you can offer a number of compelling emotional benefits.
5 Emotional Benefits of a Professional Network
Everyone’s professional network is unique, but the term typically refers to a collection of peers, colleagues, superiors, and mentors who have connections, skills, and expertise that can benefit you in exchange for your own time, resources, and experience in a separate, yet related area of interest.
Most people think about a professional network in terms of the tangible career benefits – such as landing a new job as the result of knowing the right person – but it’s just as important on the psychological side of things. If you want to thrive in your career, you’ll benefit from several emotional benefits of maintaining a professional network.
No matter how smooth things are at the moment, your career won’t be without its ups and downs. You’ll encounter friction, challenges, and hurdles at nearly every turn. A professional network gives you the support system needed to survive these momentary bouts and celebrate when you experience success.
It’s easy to feel like it’s you against the world. While it’s fine to have this mentality in certain moments, it’s a destructive way to look at your career in the grand scheme. Cultivating a strong professional network will give you the confidence that you have people in your corner who are willing to fight for you when circumstances call for it.
3. Sounding Board
Sometimes you just need someone to sit and listen as you recap issues you’re having, hash out plans, or speculate on where something is headed. At times, a strong professional network will serve as a sounding board so that you can reach your own conclusions.
4. Inclusiveness and Purpose
In the pursuit of being successful in your field, it’s easy to become isolated and lose focus. Being able to connect with others is highly beneficial on the emotional front. This is certainly true in the insurance industry.
“Being a producer in a highly competitive and quickly evolving industry, like the insurance industry, can be lonely at times,” CompleteMarkets, an online community for the insurance field, explains. “There is something extremely rewarding on a mental and emotional level about being able to interact with other professionals who are facing similar challenges as you. It helps you feel understood, contributes to a sense of belonging and in some ways can be therapeutic for many professionals.”
This feeling of inclusiveness and purpose goes beyond any one moment. When you zoom out and see it from a big picture perspective, it becomes evident that this aspect of a strong professional network actually gives meaning to people in their personal lives as well.
5. Stronger Mental Health
“Studies have demonstrated that social isolation and loneliness are associated with a greater risk of poor mental health and poor cardiovascular health, as well as other health problems,” Mayo Clinic explains. In fact, these studies indicate that a strong social network improves the ability to cope with stressful situations; alleviates negative effects of emotional distress; enhances self-esteem; lowers blood pressure; and promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Strengthening Your Professional Network
Clearly, there’s more to a professional network than using it to fast-track your resume to the top of a pile of job applications. If you play your cards right, it could actually be one of the most emotionally satisfying and psychologically rewarding parts of your career – a true catalyst for success.
As you build your network, think about it in terms of tiers. In the lower tier, you have what are known as allies. These are people you meet once or twice and have a casual relationship with. They probably aren’t the people you’re going to call if everything starts to fall apart, but you can reach out to them with an occasional request if they fit the description.
Next up you have coaches/benefactors. These are people with whom you have a stronger connection. They have enough clout to offer occasional advice and guidance – though it’s usually sought out by you.
Finally, there are mentors. You’ll likely only have one true mentor in your professional network – though it’s technically possible to have a couple. These are individuals who are committed to helping you succeed and will provide unsolicited advice to nurture you in the right direction.
As you build your professional network, make sure you’re layering it
with all of these different individuals so that you can maximize both the
career perks and emotional benefits that foll