A Smarter Way to Network

Audrey_HepburnWhile there is a battle still being waged in social networks about defining and engaging influence online, in the executive suite, influence is often defined as informal power to support and help coordinate resources.

Successful executives network with a select group of people.

According to research conducted by Rob Cross and Robert Thomas, the executives who consistently rank in the top 20% of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse but select networks—made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from several different spheres and from up and down the corporate hierarchy.

These high performers tap into six critical kinds of connections, which enhance their careers and lives in a variety of ways.

They have strong ties to:

1. people who offer them new information and expertise, including
internal and external clients, who increase their market awareness; peers in other functions, divisions, or geographies, who share best practices; and contacts in other industries, who inspire innovation;

2. formally powerful people, who provide mentoring, sense-making,
political support, and resources; and informally powerful people, who offer influence, help coordinating projects, and support among the rank
and file; and

3. people who give them developmental feedback, challenge their
decisions, and push them to be better. At an early career stage, and employee might get this from a boss or customers; later, it tends to come from coaches, trusted colleagues, or a spouse.

The most satisfied executives have ties to people who provide personal support, people who add a sense of purpose and worth, and people who promote their work/life balance.

How do you create such a varied network?

Analyze—identify the people in your network and what you get out of interacting with them

De-layer—make some hard decisions to back away from redundant and energy-sapping relationships

Diversify—build your network out with the right kind of people: energizers who will help you achieve your goals

Capitalize—make sure you're using your contacts as effectively as you can

Regardless of the size organization you work in, or whether you work in one in the first place, take a look at your network and evaluate what's working and what can be improved to achieve the business results you are striving for in the next year.

Based upon our goals and career stage, in business we're called to recognize the value and importance of planning, and serendipity.

How we construct our network will help us find the best opportunities, ideas, and talent.

[Source: HBR.]



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
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