LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, looked at the importance of a professional network to access economic opportunities, as part of the LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2020 report. Global findings reveal that professionals with strong and diverse networks are more likely to be confident about their futures than those with a weaker or less diverse network.
A majority of people with strong networks don’t believe that ‘lack of a professional network’ is a barrier to opportunity. Professionals across APAC state that not having a strong network makes it harder to find a job that allows them to utilise their skills and do what they love. This shows that access to coveted jobs and opportunities largely depends on how strong one’s professional network is.
Networks are important but most don’t know how…
The Indian workforce lays strong emphasis on networking, as most professionals – especially Millennials – believe that having a strong network can help them progress their careers and get ahead in life. Survey findings reaffirm this by stating that while 88% of Indian professionals believe knowing the right people is key to getting ahead in life, only 13% are looking for networking opportunities. This vast difference between awareness and action suggests that while young professionals in India aspire for stronger networks, they lack necessary direction and guidance to build these networks. This barrier is visible across Asia Pacific, with a majority of respondents (51%) believing that a lack of networks is a difficult barrier to overcome and this is mainly because they lack the confidence and guidance on how to go about building a network.
Networks, like opportunities, are not distributed evenly
LinkedIn also talks about how socioeconomic barriers – specifically where you live, where you went to school or college, where you work – have an impact on your access to opportunities. Based on LinkedIn data, findings state that members in India living in metro cities are 1.76x more likely to have a stronger network than those living in non-metro areas. Findings also state that Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi NCR are the top 3 regions with people with stronger networks, with members in Bengaluru leading the national average. Members who attend a top university are 1.53x more likely to have a stronger network than those who didn’t.
Two people with equal talent should have equal access to opportunities, however this is not the case. LinkedIn refers to this disparity as ‘The Network Gap’ as networks, like opportunities, are not distributed equally. The findings tell us that ‘who you know’ matters, and that networks have power, and connections are valuable for business, mentorship, and job-seeking opportunities.
Overcoming barriers easier with stronger networks
The report suggests that networking and mentorship are among the top most opportunities sought after by Indian professionals. Findings further show that Indian professionals are equally interested in networking opportunities that help them build and nurture existing professional networks and help others gain opportunities.
The report also suggests that people with stronger networks perceive factors that are not under their control, like potential global recession as opportunity barriers. Individuals with weaker networks are starkly opposite, as they perceive factors that are usually under one’s control, like quality of education and confidence as opportunity barriers. This difference in perception concludes that people with stronger connections are in general more confident about overcoming difficult barriers, owing to their strong networks.
Commenting on the findings, Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn said, “It is important for our members to know that they are not alone in these times of social distancing. By staying connected virtually, professionals can help each other seek new opportunities, connections, and navigate challenges together. It is our constant endeavour to ensure that people with equal talent have equal access to opportunities, and we are seeing the community come together to give help and get help like never before. We encourage our members to continue bridging this network gap amidst this pandemic and beyond.”