As professionals, our networks are golden. A good network can help you to: get things done, learn best practices, connect you to others that can help you, provide advice, and perhaps even help you to find work. In short, they are in essential ingredient to success. Unfortunately, most of us have networks that are very tight - many people in our networks know each other.
Why is a tight network a problem? If you want to differentiate yourself at work with an infusion of new ideas and everyone in your network works for your company, your access to resources, new ideas and best practices is limited. If you want to transition from your current career to something different or a different industry, chances are that your network will again be a limiting factor.
By contrast, a broad network provides:
- Competitive advantage - Access to resources (people, companies, and ideas) can give you a leg up on your peers.
- Access to people from a variety of companies and industries that will give you exposure to experience and best practices outside of your company or industry.
- If you are in the market to change jobs or careers, you will have access to people who can either help you, or introduce you to those who can.
- Part of networking is being able to help those who help you. If you all have the same people in your networks, your ability to help others will be limited because you can’t connect them to people that they don’t already know.
How do you get a broader network?
- Reestablish connections with friends from college, graduate school and former jobs. Learn what they’re doing and update them so that they can tap your expertise.
- Professionally connect with people from clubs or religious organizations that you belong to.
- Join industry and professional organizations and meet people at events and meetings.
You may wonder what the benefit of establishing connections with people from unrelated fields can bring. You never know who knows who and what until you start engaging them. I knew people at my church for years, but until I started talking to them about what they did professionally, I had no idea what they did. As I started talking to people, I found people who helped me to establish a job search support group that we have been running for four years. Others gave me advice that helped me to establish a coaching practice.
So start broadening your network today. You will be surprised what treasures have been buried in your own backyard, and how they can help you.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for broadening your network?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi is a certified Hogan provider. She works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.