From the moment they begin their careers, business professionals are told countless times that they need to actively network in order to foster career success. Networking has been a major facet of professional life for decades, but just how important and useful is it? Here are some of the reasons everyone should be networking:

Networking Pays Off in the Long Run

Some people hold the mistaken idea that networking is done to produce immediate offers and opportunities. While this does sometimes happen, the reality is that most career opportunities that come about as a result of networking occur months or even years after an initial contact is made.

Building a Network Produces Real Results

At times, it can seem that networking requires a fair amount of effort without any real payoff. When someone is looking for a new job or career opportunity, however, the investment in networking pays off. According to the professional networking social site LinkedIn, some 70 percent of members who found a new job in 2016 were hired into companies they already had at least one previous connection.

Networking Leads Directly to More Income

As strange as it may seem, networking can have a direct impact on income. A 2016 study found that attorneys who disliked networking actually billed out fewer hours than those who engaged actively in it. Similarly, because of its ability to speed up advancement, networking can produce higher incomes over the course of a career.

So, Why Don’t People Network?

With all of these benefits, it may seem odd that so many people avoid networking. In large part, this has to do with the discomfort that accompanies meeting new people. Even professionals who work with the public frequently may have a hard time launching into networking events. For these people, one of the easiest solutions is to begin with internal networking, or networking with people within their own organizations. Internal networking is often less formal than external. Sometimes, it can be as simple as grabbing dinner with co-workers. Once someone is comfortable with this, it’s easier for him or her to branch out into larger events.

Another reason people fail to network is that they are too busy to attend networking events. During a busy work week, a non-critical event can seem like a waste of time. However, when it comes to career progression, networking events are critical and should be treated as such.