In business, you need to establish and grow a network – but why? What does a network actually provide for you and your success? In short, your success and your career developments will be built on a foundation of relationships. Highly successful people all have networks of relationships that they nurture and actively engage for a variety of reasons, both personal and professional.
When you hear the word “relationships,” it might conjure up “individual to individual,” but relationships go beyond who you are face-to-face with or directly connected with. A network helps you expand your relationships beyond connections you directly make with individuals. Networks, by definition, are complex adaptive systems. The relationships in a network interact with and impact each other.
Networks Are Pathways
Insigniam views an organization as a network of conversations and how work is done and results are accomplished are through conversations in this network. These conversations include discussions, meetings, videoconferences, emails, reports, social media, etc.
Networks of connection increase your visibility and connect you with opportunities, recommendations, ideas, and even potential jobs that you would otherwise have no idea about or access to. For example, promotions are often determined by your manager and others, who don’t have an opportunity to evaluate your work directly. If you have cultivated a network and maintain visibility with decision-makers, you will have a better chance with promotions. One of the best ways to enhance visibility in business is through a strong and carefully cultivated network.
Take the Coaching!
Over my career, I have attended countless keynotes and workshops on developing professionally and a common piece of coaching is to intentionally develop your visibility in addition to your capabilities and experience. Doing great, even excellent, work is not enough to ensure your success. You have to make certain that you are visible to those making decisions that impact you and your career. This is true for both internal and external commitments, such as promotions and sales respectively.
I worked with an organizational development executive who explained how this plays out in his company when Vice President positions open up. The potential candidates are reviewed by a selection committee. As candidates are discussed, those who are best known among the group have a distinct advantage. There is an expectation that someone who is ready to join the executive rank would be developing relationships outside of their official area.
An Innovative Way To Expand Value
Another valuable outcome of developing a rich network is having access to generating innovative ideas that can differentiate your work. I had a Vice President in a biotech company share a great example of this with me. During his career, he had established a relationship with a renowned scientist in his network who was highly sought after to speak at conferences. Over their careers, the two had become good friends. The Vice President routinely invited the scientist to have group discussions with his team. The team was encouraged to bring problems that they were working to solve and ask for the scientist’s input. The scientist appreciated being able to have first-hand knowledge of what was actually going on in companies. These meetings happened multiple times a year and provided incredible value to all involved. This is an opportunity that would not have been possible without the Vice President’s well-developed network.
Get Started Now!
Having a strong network will benefit you in many ways throughout your career and life. It is a process that will evolve over time and, like other places where you can invest, you will see a greater return on your investment the earlier you begin.
So what are you waiting for? Take action today and every day to expand and enrich your networks!