Group Of Happy Coworkers Discussing In Conference Room

Networking is one of the most frequently thrown around buzzwords of our time. We know it matters, but why?

I had the privilege of sitting through a keynote by J. Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network, last week. Hoey insightfully points out that at the core, networking is about building strong, genuine, and mutually beneficial relationships, which can transform careers, and she reveals innovative strategies to harness the power of our contacts. Evidently, it’s a skill that is critical to career success in the 21st century.

The importance of networking in career advancement is something that we’re increasingly talking about in recent years. What we talk about less, however, is the importance of networking in enhancing our experiences at work.

Specifically, I argue today that networking is necessary in order for us to stay engaged in our work.

Let’s start with the research. According to a 2016 report by the Society for Human Resource Management, strong relationships with coworkers was identified as one of the key conditions to job satisfaction. They argue:

Positive relationships with co-workers can foster a sense of loyalty, camaraderie, and moral support and engagement among staff. These bonds may boost overall results and productivity as employees are more likely to want to avoid disappointing their teammates and to remain a cohesive team, especially when faced with adversity. Creating a more pleasant working environment through relationships with co-workers can increase employee satisfaction.

Gallup, which is another organization who has spent decades and millions of dollars studying work engagement, identified having a “best friend at work” as one of the 12 key elements of employee engagement. And that’s because:

When you have a close friend at work, you feel a stronger connection to the company, and you’re more excited about coming into work every day. You attach yourself to the company’s purpose and collaborate better to create success for the business.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Business and Management also pointed out that employees’ relationships with co-workers and supervisors directly influences the extent to which they felt that their work was meaningful, and their sense of psychological safety – both of which have been identified as key drivers of team performance by Google.

The evidence supporting the idea that relationships are the key to work engagement are hard to ignore.

More importantly, though, relationships are a basic human need.

Just as plants need water, sunshine, and minerals to thrive, psychological research suggests that the satisfaction of the psychological need to be connected to others is essential for individuals’ growth and wellbeing.

So how do we enhance work engagement, support employee wellbeing, and create growth-oriented workplaces? The evidence all points in one direction – we have to build strong relationships.

A powerful way of achieving this objective is through team building. At Summit, our team building programs provide groups of all sizes an opportunity to connect with others, and begin building meaningful and supportive relationships that can significantly enhance their work experience.

At the core, our programs provide participants an opportunity to build and strengthen their networks through fun, engaging, and purposeful activities.

To end, I’ll go back to my original question – why does networking matter?

Here’s my answer: networking enhances connection, connection enhances engagement, and engagement enhances performance.

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