3 psychological benefits of a collaborative professional network

Colleagues in your industry can provide support, help you focus your goals, and reduce stress.

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If you’re looking for a new job, a professional network is key to landing a dream gig, and being part of a network that’s spread far and wide is easier than ever with collaboration apps.

But there are benefits of networking that don’t involve leaving your current gig, too.

Growing your list of contacts is easier than you think. Here are three reasons you should set aside time, at any stage in your career, to keep those relationships healthy. Collaborating with those in your field toward a shared goal of doing bigger, better, cooler things in your line of work -- and fostering a collegial mission to improve your industry -- is worth the effort.

1. A network can be a source of positive motivation

Watching others accomplish their goals, meeting milestones and sharing their success stories can serve as the motivation you need to lift yourself out of a slump or push yourself to do better work in your career. Sure, these moments can serve to remind you that great things can be accomplished, but they can also ignite your competitive spirit.

Whatever motivates you, use that energy well to be your productive self at work. Eventually, you’ll be the one sharing your success with your network.

2. You can get honest advice when you need it

Having a network of like-minded peers can be a great source of advice when you need it the most. If you’re facing a challenge at work, it can be good to reach out to someone outside of your organization for an unbiased opinion about the issue at hand. You could also reach out to those in unrelated fields to yours to get an outsider perspective. This can lead to different solutions you would have never come up with on your own.

Of course, just because you received advice doesn’t mean you have to follow it to the dime. Take what you find most useful and apply it to your situation in a way that makes sense to you. And remember: even bad advice can be useful. With solutions in hand, you can be your most productive self.

3. It can help keep your accountable and reduce stress

When you share your goals, they become real. Doing this can be a powerful psychological motivator, because if you fail, others will know. Use this to your advantage and lean on your network to keep you accountable and productive. Better yet, add timelines to your goals. This way, people may check in on your progress, and this will push you to follow through.

And when you do accomplish your goals, humble brag about it. Receiving comments on a job well done feels great and will further motivate you to accomplish more.

The journal Personality and Individual Differences published in 2019 a study that found people who were torn about which goals to pursue were linked with psychological distress.

If you're looking to be more decisive about the goals you want to accomplish, sharing those questions with people in your field and network -- collaboration apps, social media, or IRL networking -- can be helpful in narrowing your vision.

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