Mine certainly delivers on the first. I know loads of people. I’ve been here bloody ages so I should do and if you need to know someone to help you then I’m a good place to start.
But I feel like it isn’t working for me on the second. I’ve been ‘stuck’ at my current level for over 10 years now. I like to think it's a temporary plateau as I know I have more to offer, but maybe I just need to do some different networking to make the decision makers recognise that.
I’m a product really, and I need to be more innovative to make sure people see how buyable I am. So how can I do that?
As with much of what I write it's my personal take on things I have been ‘taught by powerpoint’ so here’s my take on the 6 rules for networking at work
1. Build outward – not inward
I’ve spent a lot of time making deep connections with people I know. But maybe i’ve got the balance wrong.
I need to spend more time establishing a wider network and realising that the one I already have won’t disappear if I don’t speak to them in months.
2. Go for diversity – not size
It’s not how big it is, it’s what you do with it, and what it can do for you.
I know enough people in certain areas of the business with certain skills and have tended to be loyal to them. But what more can others offer? If I meet them once at a meeting I’ll try and build on that and broaden with access to people with different skills and viewpoints
They should be different from me, and different from each other.
I do this on linked in tbh, and try not to just have 500 Environment Agency contacts, so should apply it more day to day.
3. Build weak ties – not strong ones
A strong tie is probably someone who knows a lot of the same people you do. Very true, I’ve got lots of them, and they are always really nice to talk to as we have so much in common and it's easy.
A weak tie can form a bridge to a world you don’t normally walk in. That bridge could also be over troubled water.
I'm going to look to redress my tie balance.
4. Use hubs – not familiar faces
At the start of this I thought I was a hub, someone who can connect people to who they need to speak to. And in my own specialist area I probably am. But I need those hubs elsewhere to connect me up.
Hubs tend to be people who have been around a while and worked in a variety of teams. If you're a leader you should consider it part of your job to help develop hubs.
It's time to identify some other hubs and get connected.
6. If people aren’t pulling together, strengthen ties
This is particularly true in a team working closely together. Spend the time to get to know each other. Air disagreements. Build trust. I certainly need to spend more time on this.
So I’m going to map my network, formal and informal. See how diverse it is and where the gaps are that when filled will help me get where I want to be and re look through the rules above.
What are you going to do, or is your network working perfectly?
Mr Paul Wyse