Most of us recognise that having a strong professional network is an important element of achieving our career goals and aspirations. But how many of us actually make time to develop, nurture and grow our connections. It is all too easy to get busy being busy in a rush to get everything on the “to do” list done, while neglecting the benefits that come from truly connecting and sharing with other professionals.
Research by the McKinsey Leadership Project has found that “People with strong networks and good mentors enjoy more promotions, higher pay, and greater career satisfaction. They feel a sense of belonging, which makes their lives meaningful.”
So clearly this is important.
How strong is your professional network?
Who is in your network?
How connected to them are you? Could you seek out their professional advice or support?
Is your network made up of people both within your organization and externally?
Do you have a network of others within your profession to draw on to solve problems?
Do you have a mentor or a circle of trusted advisors? Do you keep in touch?
How do you support those within your network?
Building your network is something that you need to work at and prioritise. Imagine the benefits that would come from putting aside time every month to stay in touch and be available to help others. You will be rewarded with stronger relationships, solutions to problems, keeping abreast of important information and the joy that comes from being of value to those in your network.
Then there is the hidden job market that is suddenly available to you through those who know what you are good at and what you want from your career.
My own networks were an invaluable source of advice, support and connections when I started out in business. Friends, family and professional colleagues generously helped me to find resources, provided introductions to potential clients and were there for me to celebrate the wins and pick up the pieces when the going got tough.
The idea of networking fills many with fear and trepidation. The good news is that the strength of your network has less to do with networking and much more about developing relationships.
By focusing on two-way, genuine and mutually beneficial relationships, the idea of building your network will go from being a daunting task to be avoided like the plague, to being a fulfilling, fun diversion from the day to day grind.
A diverse network of friends, colleagues and associates is key to supporting your professional development and growth and to impact your sense of personal fulfilment. By ignoring this critical element of your career growth, you will miss out on the potential benefits: inspiration, information, contacts, informal mentors, support, encouragement and potential job opportunities.
Alone we can be strong… but together we can be stronger. Surround yourself we people to support and help your growth, clear the pathway for opportunities to emerge and challenge you to strive for even more than you think is possible.
Who are you going to connect with over the next week, remembering that this is as much about what value you can add to them as it is about how they can add value to you?
Further information: www.Janebenston.com Jane Benston is a consultant, coach, facilitator and blogger in the field of human behaviour and leadership