So what criteria do you use to create your network? Who is missing? Who do you need to add? What strategic alliances can you create?
Although not an open networker, I am a strategic one and I have over time become an advocate of the theory that there is strength in a weak network. I don’t connect with just anyone and everyone, but I don’t mind if I don’t know the individual personally. That particular connection may not be directly helpful, but perhaps will be connected to someone who might be. Being pathologically curious I am always open to meeting new people.
Everyone will have different needs when creating a strong network. It will depend on age, level of experience and the type of professional activity you have and of course your personality and career goals. It’s not important what your strategy is – just that you have one and it works for you. And it should be effective and support your main goals, rather than a time consuming end itself. It’s not about building up numbers for their own sakes . So what do I look for when I try to extend my network whether on-line or IRL (In Real Life)?
- Professional connections: I try to link to people who are well-connected in my areas of special interest: executive search, coaching, career transition, and women’s issues in the workplace. I aim for balance. For me this is very much related to the sharing of experiences and ideas and intellectual stimulation, as much as their influence .
- Established and /or senior connections and allies: I look to connect with some people who are deeply established in their field or holding senior positions in their organisations. A quiet word from them in the appropriate ear can carry a lot of weight. If you are in any organisation, these are key contacts, especially if you are junior and they will act as a mentor or better still a sponsor and advocate for you.
- Junior connections: I love being connected to #GenY in particular. As we get older and more set in our ways we need the energy of this generation to keep us in touch. Even if you are entry-level, there will still be people behind you!
- Peer connections : these are people doing what you do and can understand any major issues you might have. They might be good contacts to confide in, but be cautious also, you may end up competing against them for work, a contract or even a job.
- Sector connections: I like and need to stay in touch with different sectors – specific industries and functions, coaching , sourcing, executive search and so on. This is about staying up to date
- Geographic connections: I work internationally, so I ask myself the question : have I got all the key contacts in specific locations that I could tap into if needed? Which area needs strengthening?
- Connectors: If needed, who will be my go-to “connector”, the super networker, the person to whom I could pose the question” who do you know?”
- Local connections: contacts based in the places where I spend most time. There is no substitute for dealing with people face to face - especially if they are just down the road.
- Specialists: unless we are all-singing and all-dancing, all of the time, we cannot do without the specialists whose passion and skill makes what they do invaluable. Whether this is the web designer, presentation expert, DIY fiends or even a walking restaurant directory.
- Information generators: some people like to be totally up to the minute and they save us all a lot of time researching current events and developments. Do you want to know something obscure? Then these are your go-to people. We all need a few of those fabulous time- savers in our midst!
- Devils advocates : I’m very opinionated, so other great additions to my, or any network, (even if you are not) are the ones who will challenge the flaws in your argument! Definitely track down a few of those. It’s not good to surround yourself with clones of yourself.
- Social connections: we all need to have fun and very often people we know socially have the most surprising connections. Some are just plain likeable!
Who would you add? Let’s connect: