Most people acknowledge that networking is an essential activity for any employee, even for those focused simply on doing their current jobs well.
Yet many leaders avoid networking. Some think it is simply a waste of time. For others, working through networks is frown upon, because it means relying on “who you know” rather than “what you know”. Especially for leaders who are introverted, majority of them look at networking as “using” other people to get things done, or they are daunted by the prospect of having to “work” a room of strangers at a conference or at an event.
In reality, working in a corporate world requires us to work together in partnerships to achieve our goals. People with strong networks get more things done more effectively; they learn from others with different knowledge or experience; and are able to use their network as they seek to progress in their careers. I love the quote by Reid Hoffman:
”Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that’s really powerful.”
The ability to develop and maintain a broad network of “business friendships” is a critical skill for every career professional. The good news is that networking does not have to be difficult. It can be an enjoyable and rewarding part of your professional development. It’s a matter of capitalize on the mutual benefits and building from there.
Changing the way you think about networking
The usual approach to networking would suggests that you look at your current network, think about who you already know and how you can further nurture your existing relationships. The problem with this approach is that it is based on who you know and have known.
A more powerful way to think about your network is to start with your vision of where you want to be in your career in three to five years, and then plan on who would you need to know and how you are going to get there.
To make this more concrete, follow these 5 steps:
This approach is a new way of looking at networking. Instead of starting where you are, you start from the future, and work backwards.
This form of networking (as mentioned above) can be scary for many, because it will mean that you might have to reinvent yourself and show up differently than you have been. It probably involves moving away from your comfort zone and trying something totally new to you. In any new learning, it can be uncomfortable. Discomfort is a sign that the body is learning.
In these situations, you can look for professional coach to partner with you on the journey to help you unlock your potential and help you to achieve your goals. The coach will support and guide you through this process by being honest, straightforward, sharing observations, making challenging request for actions and hold your accountable for your actions and in-actions.
Show up as a Leader
It has been said that if you want to marry a ten, you have to be a ten. The same is true for our network of professional relationships. If you want to be associated with top-tier professionals, you have to be one yourself. The approach outlined above forces you to think about how you show up now as a leader, and how you need to show up to attract the professional network that will help you achieve your ultimate career aspirations.
Networking separates a successful leader from the rest of the pack by creating a web of personal contacts to provide the support, feedback, and resources needed to get things done.
For more information about building your network and getting support, please contact Samuel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Samuel, the Managing Director and Founder of BEACON, is a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach, NewField coach and Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with International Coach Federation (ICF).
As an Executive Coach, he helps companies to develop their high potential and to continuously develop current executives’ leadership skills so as to ensure company continued success and profitability. He support new managers and senior executives become effective leaders.