As with so many activities, networking is a craft to be learnt. If done well.. It benefit both you and your network..
Here are some advice from a leading researcher in the field.
- For network to have value, it needs to have relevant and potentially strategically important contacts.
- Networking is a skill to be developed, some have a natural talent, which makes it easier to get started; but all have to work at the craft.
- Make deliberate choices of whom to network with, and make it diverse. By only doing it “naturally”, one often ends up with people similar to oneself; resulting in a “narcissistic and lazy” network.
- Networking can be mutually beneficial, even instrumental ones. Think about Adam Grant’s book: “Give and take”, and how a network should allow you to practice giving, as well as receiving.
- Work on maintain a balance between those you have strong ties with high quality connections and trusted advisers AND weak ties. The latter will offer impulses and opportunities diverse from your normal circle.
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A good network keeps you informed. Teaches you new things. Makes you more innovative. Gives you a sounding board to flesh out your ideas. Helps you get things done when you’re in a hurry. And, much more (see my recent Lean In video on how networks augment your impact).