Networking – Misconceptions, Benefits & Strategies

A network is a set of relationships that you depend on to get things done and to get ahead in your career.

Networks are the crucial part of your work life since they allow you to generate new ideas, gather information and obtain the support that you need to expand your influence.

In spite of its importance, professionals hardly invest enough time in creating an effective network.

One of the biggest challenges that people face is investing time in creating and maintaining networks, since it is a long-term process and may not yield results immediately.

The other thing that holds us back is that we just don’t know how to do it.

In this video, Herminia Ibarra (Professor at INSEAD), provides some insights on how to build an effective network, common misconceptions about networking, types of networks and more. Watch the video or read on for the highlights.

Here Are Two Common Misconceptions About Networking:

  1. We believe that relationships should be developed spontaneously. If it requires strategic effort, it makes us feel calculative and sleazy. But, our spontaneous networks do not give us the diversity of ideas, inputs, information or sources that we need to be effective.
  2. We believe that significant relationships are only with those who we know and trust. However, research shows that there is strength in weak ties (people who are not that close to us) as well. These weak ties are those connections that help us get jobs for example. They are the bridges to organizations and social circles that we do not have access to.

Types and Qualities of Effective Networks

There are three types of Networks:

  1. Operational: Relationship that we have with people at work.
  2. Personal: Informal relationships.
  3. Strategic: Blend of internal and external relationships.

Three qualities of an effective network are:

  1. Broad: You should have a diverse network from across departments and organizations.
  2. Connective: You should be able to reach out to beyond your immediate circle and vice versa.
  3. Dynamic: Keep your network growing through the years.

Gender and Networking

Creating and managing networks can become a little challenging for women in a male-dominated workplace, especially once they have children and family.

Focusing your time on meeting new people, multi-tasking, and bringing your attention to the value that you bring to your network, can help you overcome these challenges.

Strategies to Expand Your Network

  1. Identify activities to get involved in, like conferences, seminars, networking events and extracurricular activities, to meet new people.
  2. Connect with new people with the help of referrals from already existing relationships. Take this opportunity to identify and create contacts that will be relevant for future career opportunities.
  3. Try and build open networks.
  4. Do an audit of your network and to gauge it’s breadth, connectivity and dynamism. This will help you identify areas where your network is lacking and how you can improve.

The most important thing about networking is to get started NOW!

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