We all like being connected to other human beings. A lot has been written and spoken about importance of networking, to be successful in today’s business world.
Changing business priorities, environment, technology and generations, one career advice remains constant – Network. Fundamental of success continues to remain Relationships, connecting and influencing people is essential for any job and leadership role. Networking is something which comes naturally to us, commonly said “it’s not rocket science”.
Networking is “an art and science both”. Even pure scientific pursuit is as much an art as science. Art part lies in applying, interpreting and understanding; existing rules, theories and equations; and being able to discover, invent and innovate variety of solutions.
Let's use example of a satellite orbiting in solar system, to share our thoughts for building an effective network.
Satellite launch rocket has 3-4 stages. Most voluminous is first stage with maximum payload and power consumption. By the time satellite is placed or ready to be placed in its orbit. It has separated from rocket and is self sustained with its own power source – solar panels, antenna, sensors, on-board computer etc.
Common misconception is that successful people have good network. More often than not good network is more like a rocket. Effective people are satellite with ability to separate from rocket and depend on Antenna, solar panels and on-board sensors. Connecting and networking with much wider audience, stakeholders and systems.
Foundation for building effective network
1) Start by defining your Sun (power sources) – your Values.
2) Chose your orbit (your goals): life, career, social etc.
3) Define and build network of your ground support - frontline employees, customers, friends, team members, family etc.
4) Define and build network for Command and Control room - key stakeholders, Customers, Board, shareholders, statutory bodies etc.
5) Define your galaxy – industry, profession, interests, expertise, social organizations etc.
Characteristic of effective network
1) An effective network should consist of people who remain aligned to your Sun (values) constantly energizing your thoughts and actions, as power panels do for satellite.
2) Individuals, acting as antenna - constantly in touch with ground support. Communicate (receive and provide feedback), seek required support. Receive instructions from Control room; provide timely feedback and information.
3) Effective sensors collecting data and inputs from surrounding environment, having foresight like a telescope to be able to spot changes across your network, galaxy and beyond.
4) Most important component of satellite is on-board computer (yourself),processing and acting based on inputs from sensors, antenna, telescope etc. Your network is as effective as you are. Make your network work for you.
5) The word defines itself NET & WORK. It’s about getting things done. So basic principles of Focus and execution remain constant.
Moment any part malfunctions / stops delivering satellite is no longer able to maintain its orbit or path. Same holds true for individuals. If our network becomes dysfunctional we lose our path and focus.
While laying foundation of your network, use 4 types of friendship/relationships -
Inspirational Value: Where people network for growth and benefit of their soul, greater knowledge and world at large. This is equivalent to connecting with experts, academia, spiritual leaders and being part of initiatives beyond their industry etc.
Practical Value: Where people network to achieve goals for their profession, families, business, friends. People connecting with Professional Forums, membership of industry bodies, Alumni Associations, technical societies and communities.
Business Value: When the only objective of connecting is to make money or achieve material goals. All commercial relationships belong here.
Entertainment Value: When basis of relationship is for entertainment and hobbies, e.g., hobbies clubs, and people connecting to fulfill various addictions like smoking, drinking etc.
A wise person has deep ties with a few and yet constant connect with many.
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