Business and career success is a team sport. Think about soccer. Even if your soccer experience is limited to the announcer shouting “Gooooooooollllllll” or watching three year olds chase after a soccer ball, you can quickly realize that even the best player is handicapped without a team.
Your power network is your personal business team. A power network can provide insights, ideas and information far beyond your singular capabilities. You support others with your unique gifts and talents, and they can support you with theirs.
Create your power network from a range of acquaintances. Everyone has something important to offer. The question is, who is a good fit for you, and who can you, in turn, support? Strive to build career success, not only for yourself, but also for your network.
To build your network, know what to ask, who to consider, and how to get started.
What to Ask:
Consider the following when assessing potential individuals for your network:
- Is the person honest? Teams are built on trust; you can’t trust a liar.
- Is there mutual respect? You need to respect them, and they, you.
- Is the person abusive? If so, steer clear.
- What are your commonalities? Commonalities build connection.
- What are your complimentary skills, experiences and connections? These are the source of your synergies.
- How can you help each other? A one-sided relationship is not sustainable.
- Are you both givers, not unilateral takers?
- What do you know about the person, as a person? Get to know them; there may be hidden opportunities or pitfalls.
- Do you like them, and do they like you?
Who to Consider for Your Career Success Network:
- Senior professionals: This may be your boss or others who have amassed experience , and are attuned to the past, present and future of business. Be sincere in your relationship; strive to learn. Do not play up to someone hoping for “favorite child” status. That is patently obvious to all, and erodes your professionalism.
- Peers: Collaboration for mutual benefit can be powerful. Peers can bring new perspectives, strengths and skills to compliment your own.
- Front line individuals: Those who are actually delivering “the goods” have the best knowledge of what is working and what is not. Don’t be arrogant; ask them.
- Customers: Everyone has customers. They’re the individuals within your organization or outside of it, who receive what you produce. Customers can provide insight not only on their own needs, but also on the needs and interests of their customers and associates.
- Individuals outside of your profession: Spread a wide net. Some other industry may have already found the solution to your current crisis. Tap into experience outside your silo.
- Personal friends and relatives: Do you know what they do “in real life?” Take time to find out; you may be surprised!
- Start with your contact list. You can’t team with someone you don’t know.
- Identify the individuals you know, like, and trust, who you may be able to help, and who may be able to help you.
- Get to know them better. Invite them for coffee. Learn about them. Explore their needs. How can you help them? Listen, don’t assume. Is there potential for a win-win relationship?
- Offer something first. Find a way you can provide genuine value to them. Be a giver. A network is built upon reciprocal relationships.
- Ask for their advice. Be sincere.
- Develop the relationship organically. Give more than you get.
- Be discerning. Not every relationship is the best for you, or for them.
Building Your Network:
But what if you don’t have many likely contacts? Here’s the crash course in expanding your network:
- Be friendly to your co-workers. Say “Hello!” Smile. Make small talk. Relationships develop over time. Be patient.
- Attend professional events. These may be educational sessions, alumni gatherings, trade seminars, or other opportunities.
- Join a networking group. People there want to connect. Be one of them!
- Hang out with people who share your interests, whether they be public speaking, gardening, or watching your kids play T Ball.
- Join a mastermind or round table group. These groups are generally smaller and meet regularly, to share ideas and hold each other accountable.
- Develop networking skills. Be brave and reach out.
What’s the payoff?
- A power network can provide insights, experience and knowledge far greater than your capabilities. A team can augment your eyes and ears, picking up on trends, opportunities and potential dangers you might not see.
- Your network can encourage you, hold you accountable, and provide honest feedback.
- Team members know and respect your talents. In a career transition, team members can be your best advocates, advisors and conduits.
Spend your time and energy doing what you do best, for yourself and others, and let others, in turn, do what they do best. Give more than you get, support your team, and build you network for career success.