Can you imagine what your network looks like?
My fascination with social and professional networks started many years ago when I realised the influence they have on our ability to get our brands out there in the most powerful way. Because when it comes to building and developing our personal leadership brands, our networks are our route to market. They also give us a snapshot of how we have been going about building our networks up to this point – and what we need to do in order to move forward.
Are you interested in what your professional network looks like? If you have a Linkedin account, go to Linkedin Labs / InMaps to get your visual representation.
Ten Top Tips
Jessica Pryce-Jones from the iOpener Institute (The Science of Happiness at Work™) has very kindly demystified Ron Burt’s book titled: Neighbor Networks: Competitive Advantage Local and Personal, and has come up with the following Ten Top Tips for developing your network (thank you Jessica):
- Evaluate who you know and what you want: assess your networks given your strategic aims.
- Check you have the skills that meet your network needs.
- Pick networks for what they can do for you and what you can do for them.
- Remember that you don’t have to stay in touch with everyone – it’s fine to connect again even years later.
- Understand that indirect ties (connections) matters more than direct ties for fresh ideas and thought about how to overcome issues.
- Leverage the brokers around you: teams who can easily reach other teams are more successful than those with poor connections. And they have better reputations, so are therefore more trusted.
- Bear in mind that trust is loaned by great brokers so get connected to those people.
- Use the power of the indirect tie and limit the time with direct ties when you are a senior leader. That means you don’t spend as much time interacting with the network to get what you need
- Remember that in today’s world it’s not 6 degrees of separation: usually 2 degrees gives you best opportunities. Three degrees out and it’s too fuzzy to know what’s happening.
- Build your networks by talking. Writing down who knows who and who knows what i.e. codifying tacit knowledge is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. Don’t do it!
Your network in context
Once you have a clear idea of what your network looks like, you might want to use the context of Stakeholder Relationship Management to explore where you can apply these top tips to strengthen and build relationships with all stakeholders.