Networking: a competency that needs developing

N°273a – Synopsis (8p.) – Influence
Networking: a competency that needs developing
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A good network is a recognized factor of professional success. To develop it, an approach that is methodical and targeted is more productive than one that is empirical. How can you build a useful network without incommensurate effort?

Everyone knows that a good network is an essential element of professional success. And many of us would like to be able to dedicate more time to this. Some of us would also like to feel more at ease in social situations to take better advantage of the networking events we push ourselves to attend. What if the problem was neither lack of time nor of possibly being introverted, but rather having too empirical an approach to networking?

To develop our network, we generally let our intuition guide us—which might sometimes prove deceptive. For example, we think that the thickness of an address book is a determining factor. Or, at least, that it is important to know people in high positions. Reality shows that neither one nor the other determines the usefulness of a network. Michelle McKenna-Doyle, current senior vice-president of the NFL (National Football League), did not have any contacts in this organization’s management team when she decided to apply for a position in 2012. But she had kept in touch with a former colleague whom she knew had become a head hunter. He knew someone in charge at the NFL—and proved happy to introduce her. Six months later, Michelle McKenna-Doyle secured her dream job. This example shows how proximity and the strength of a connection are more significant than the number of acquaintances. Similarly, the fact that our contacts can connect us to different professional circles is often more valuable than their hierarchical status.

Indeed, sociologists have demonstrated that the effectiveness of networking relies on having a methodical approach. Thus, this is a competency that can be learnt and practiced. Networking specialist Ronald Burt has shown that leaders trained in networking have up to 72% more chance of being promoted than their peers.

Knowing the few rules of effective networks will enable you to better target your networking activities—and, why not, to really enjoy the process.

In this synopsis:
- Constructively widening your social circle inside the company
- Optimizing your network of acquaintances
- (Re)connecting with distant acquaintances to increase the value of your network

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