By Janine Garner
How many of us have been told, “you really have to network,” in other words that networking is an important part of building personal and business success? The old adage, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” seems to have significantly more weight in this 21st century world of ‘busyness’, where jobs are taken before they are advertised, previously unthought-of collaborations appear out of the woodworks and steal market share, even creating new markets, and let’s face it, everyone seems to be friends with everyone else on social media.
Individual talent, previous performance successes, educational achievement or even good old sell reliance is no longer enough to survive in the world in which we now live. We have to take ownership and control, build and maintain a powerful and diverse network where we are smack bang in the centre. An effective network:
- Creates new opportunity for growth.
- Stretches, drives and inspires you.
- Enables you to influence more and leverage your position further.
Identify your critical few
Back in the 1990s, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that humans could only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships in terms of knowing people by name and the ability to keep in social contact with said group. He suggests that anything larger than this naturally results in sub-groups being created as a new 150 tribe is created.
I would add to Robin Dunbar’s thinking that real influence, impact and momentum starts with a significantly smaller circle of influence; one where you are smack bang in the centre. It is here that transformational connections are made possible – a small group of people, between 10 and 15, providing quality of thinking, creating new perspectives, pushing you further than you could ever go alone, supporting you and equally taking great pleasure is seeing you succeed and achieving dreams.
Run your critical few through an audit
An effective network bridges smaller more diverse groups of individuals and consists of people with differing levels of expertise, diversity and experience. Powerful networks are cross-functional, cross-hierarchical and cross–industry.
Take a look at your core circle and ask yourself whether your core connections provide:
- Information about your company, market or wider industry.
- Influence, having been there before they are able to provide insight, open doors and create opportunities.
- Mentoring to accelerate your personal growth plan.
- The capacity to energise you and hold you accountable.
- A sense of purpose, of balance and worth.
De–layer – lose the energy zappers, the dream stealers, the underminers
Sometimes we have to make some hard decisions and de–layer the energy zappers, the underminers, the dream stealers. These people are the antithesis of networking. They are the zappers of positivity. The drainers. The ones that don’t add constructive thoughts to your career or business dreams. The ones that dampen the collective conversation, instead stealing ideas and snuffing them out – or worse, stealing them for themselves.
Have the courage to walk away and instead find those people who will not only dream with you but will also offer input, thought and insight to ensure you are moving in the right direction of your goals.
Be brave and diversify
Building your own effective web of influence and connection requires you to step out of your comfort zone and strategically expand your circle of influence. You must consciously consider who you need to learn from, add value to, engage and collaborate with to become a truly Connected You.
Successful networking is about understanding the connections you should be making, as opposed to those you are making. It is about what your networks look like, who they consist of and how they relate to each other.
It is about asking who you need to surround yourself with to inspire you and grow you … about being brave enough to seek out new individuals; being brave enough to connect.
Networking that transforms
The connections you create are the ones that will decide your success and failure. The few that understand the power of the network benefit immensely – we all know them – those uber connected individuals that seem to be able to weave their web of influence, introduction and business collaboration with very little effort.
This is when connected you becomes influential you – where you can change the game, make the impossible possible, inspire others to take action, connect people with ideas and dreams and ultimately, connect those ideas and dreams to action, to a new reality.
Choose your network wisely and build a circle around you that allows you to transform and become so much more.
Janine Garner is the Founder and CEO of LBDGroup and works with senior leaders to build high performing teams. She is passionate about the return to open and transparent corporate relationships and the power of commercial collaboration in future-proofing careers and businesses. Janine is also the author of From Me To We – Why commercial collaboration will future proof business, leaders and personal success, published by Wiley. For more information visit http://www.janinegarner.com.au