Do you have a 360° Network?

networking in out down up across The Way Women Work career business adviceSuccessful women and men have a 360° network. Do you?

I see people spending a lot of time attending networking events and meeting people for coffee or lunch, but NOT building the diverse type of network that can help them be most successful.

Their mistake: they spend all their time with people they already know, with people like themselves and with people of the same gender and age.

To be successful we all need a diverse, robust network, with all these types of relationships (note the word relationships, not just contacts). These are the five ways you need to be networking: up, down, across, in and out.

UP

Network ‘UP’ with people who are more senior, experienced and influential than you are. These people can become mentors or even be future sponsors. They are the people who can open doors and make introductions and opportunities available to you; they will advocate for you. If you are an entrepreneur, these are likely the people with access to funding.

Ways to meet these people: 

Where you work, at conferences, or at industry events.

DOWN

Network ‘DOWN’ with people who are more junior than you. These people can serve as reverse mentors, teaching you about new innovations. They usually have access to information and different types of input and feedback than you do.

green check smWays to meet these people: 

Where you work, at universities, at coffee shops, through friends and family, or on social networks.

ACROSS

Network ‘ACROSS’ with peers who work in the same or different departments as you do . These are the people you need to regularly work with. If you have strong relationships with them, you’ll be able to call on them to help you out and give you insights into the best ways to get something accomplished within your organization. They can give you behind the scenes knowledge or warn you about political land mines. Peers are typically our strongest critics and the lack of strong peer relationships make it very difficult to succeed.

green check smWays to meet these people: 

Where you work.

IN

Network ‘IN’ with people in the industry you work in, including clients. Strong relationships with clients leads to business development opportunities. Regardless of whether you are in a client facing role or not, relationships with clients are critical to understanding their needs, competitor and market forces. At the sake of over generalizing, a lack of relationships with clients is a weakness I see in many women I coach. The outcome for these women is that they bringing in less new business and they have a narrower understanding of client and market needs which results in lower compensation and fewer promotional opportunities.

green check smWays to meet these people:  

At client events, one on one, at conferences, at industry events, at social functions.

OUT

Network ‘OUT’ with people who work in completely unrelated fields. These are commonly referred to as weak ties. These people could be referral partners or service providers such as bankers, financial advisors, attorneys or people in completely different fields. This is a part of their network that people often overlook or decide that they don’t have time for. Big mistake. These outside relationships are the ones that broaden our perspectives and lead to strategic and innovative ideas. It is these outside relationship that often lead us to new opportunities.

green check smWays to meet these people: 

In your community, at cross-industry events, through family and friends, though your mentors.

THE STRENGTH OF WEAK TIES

In the 1970’s, American sociologist Mark Granovetter published a paper, titled The Strength of Weak Tiesrecognized as one of the most influential sociology papers ever written. Granovetter showed that the people we know well operate in the same circles that we and know what we already know. By contrast, people that operate in different circles than we do have access to different information than we do. Strong ties result in supportive bonds, weak ties build bridges to where we want to go. 

YOUR TURN

Assess your the strength of your network for each of these five groups of people. Do you have strong, diverse relationships in each of them? How often are you nurturing your relationships? Who do you need to reach out to today?

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