There’s a dangerous myth that people are adopting that “your network is your networth” – what an insinuation of entitlement!
A network is a community, and a networth is a personal thing. Unless if you’re involved in a stokfel with the people in your network, then maybe your network can have a direct correlation with your networth.
With this post I’d like to share my findings on what a network is, what constitutes it and how to go about building networks.
A common misconception is that a network is about extensive reach and quantity of the people you know, this is the biggest myth you will have to deal with, you really want people committed to you.
A wide but weak network will not help much. A network is about the strength and individuals who care about your passionate involvement in their professional careers. You want well respected, credible and sought after people in your network, who can also put their individual networks to work for you as needed. This is however a two way street and you want to have individuals who you can help and make a difference to as well.
Networks are not about social media, teleconferences and being part of email distribution lists – they are about a professional community driven by personal engagement and commitment.
Building a network
- When you build your network, focus on the stars – people who can inspire you and raise your game. Do not waste your time on the people who do not have the drive, create negative energy or will not be around for the long term. Take some time to qualify your network and get comfortable with where you are and what work needs to be done.
- List down the people who matter in your professional network, code them i.e., green for top advocates, orange for the positively optimistic, yellow for the neutrals and red for antipathy. If the grid is not vibrating green, the network needs work.
- Networks need to always create value. The sources of value generally come from the variety of the players in the network, their level of influence in the firm, their own individual networks and their own market presence.
- Let me also reiterate that walking around the movers and shakers is simply not enough, at times we have to do a lot more to engage people and demonstrate what you can do for them to covert and keep them as strong allies.
- Strong networks build over time but can fade away quickly if you do not nurture and maintain them through constant engagement and exchange of value.
- Lastly, remember, intent is very important – be intentional about building working relationships and also stay authentic and consistent. Do show up with ulterior motives.
I hope this helps somebody build long term, valuable and working business relationships.