Business networks: Useful career tool or time killer?

Social networks are now part of everyday life for many people.

Business networks: Useful career tool or time killer?

Social networks are now part of everyday life for many people. Even in the professional world, it is often no longer possible without it. But do career platforms really bring something for professional life?

Social networks take time. Most of these are entertainment oriented like Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube and Facebook. In addition, however, LinkedIn and Xing are platforms that see themselves as purely professional networks. They should benefit your career. But is a profile really worth it?

It doesn't matter whether it's analogue or digital: "Anyone who doesn't have a good network will definitely have a harder time in the working world," says Silke Grotegut at least. She is a career and application coach and wrote the book "Make a career with XING, Linkedin and Co." written.

Because of the shortage of skilled workers, the labor market has turned around completely, she says. "That's why companies no longer wait for the right person to contact them." In fact, they went looking for it themselves. Since very few employees have their own website, the path inevitably leads through digital career networks.

Grotegut also points out the so-called hidden job market. Most jobs are not advertised. According to the coach, companies often fill positions from their own or from the extended network - with people who have applied on their own initiative, recommended by employees or have been found in the recruiting process. Xing and Linkedin have also played a major role here.

Magdalena Oehl describes this from the perspective of the startup scene. The deputy chair of the startup association says "only those who are visible will take place". She thinks it makes sense to be present, especially when it comes to founders. This helps, for example, to draw the attention of potential investors and employees.

Being successful in business networks requires a willingness to talk and socialize - right from the start, says organizational and group psychologist Babette Brinkmann. She teaches as a professor at the Technical University of Cologne and is active on Linkedin herself.

If you are new, you should first see who he or she already knows on the respective platform. These can be former classmates, fellow students, acquaintances, team members and family members. Joining groups is just as practical.

Magdalena Oehl from the startup association often finds that you network with new people after events. The key to success is continuity, she says. If you want to build up an active, growing network as quickly as possible, you have to write posts regularly. "The Linkedin algorithm also recognizes this."

From Oehl's point of view, even a small editorial plan can be useful, so that you can define recurring topics and guarantee a certain variety. "At least as important is network maintenance, i.e. writing messages, reacting to content and pointing out interesting posts." Basically, this includes that the most important digital contacts become analog - and you see and talk to each other in person from time to time.

The network contacts should have different properties. In the best case, this includes information providers, multipliers of contacts, reference providers and decision-makers. Quality comes before quantity, says Silke Grotegut. "If I'm looking for a managerial position in a corporation, but my network consists of thousands of university graduates, then it is not able to help me with my professional project".

That sounds like a lot of planning, effort and time. Babette Brinkmann agrees. It is therefore optimal if it does not feel like a burden and if there is a balance between costs and benefits. Then networks like Linkedin could be an asset. She says it's a question of type, where you have to look at what your own needs look like and what function a business network should fulfil.

In addition to time, the networks sometimes also cost money. "Xing is a freemium product, you don't get very far with the basic account," says career coach Grotegut. Linkedin, on the other hand, "already includes the most important features for the job search in the free version". Only additional offers are subject to payment.

Nevertheless, business networks should not be underestimated. "This model, that you spend your entire working life with one employer, will no longer exist in this form in the future," predicts Grotegut. At some point, regular changes became part of it. Anyone who then already has an intact, diverse network and is visible will succeed more quickly in the new entry.

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