WHO YOU KNOW AND WHO KNOWS YOU

By definition, leadership is about relationships. Leaders need both a network of contacts that they can help and a network that provides help to them. They also need a support system of people with whom they have deeper relationships. Reinvention is almost impossible to do alone. Leaders need help to maintain career momentum, and they need a diverse network to achieve their goals.

Networking takes time, and it requires people to get out of their comfort zones and cultivate new contacts, not just work friends. Sitting at a desk through lunch or emailing instead of walking a few cubicles down may seem efficient, but engaging with other people is a better investment of time. Leaders cannot do everything themselves–they are completely dependent on others, but they also need to think of other people as people, not just as a means to an end.

Networking is about building trust and mutual support, not just helping someone find their next job, but making them more successful each day. To develop those kinds of relationships, leaders must give their time and effort to others, but they must also choose those others carefully, consciously building relationships with others who are committed to reinvention.

To analyze their networks, leaders must think of the sorts of expertise they have access to. A versatile network contains people who can offer a variety of professional and personal help. Here are six tips for growing a network:

  1. Be authentically interested and humble.
  2. Target a list of well-networked people you do not know.
  3. As much as possible, meet in their office.
  4. Network to create value, not to get a job.
  5. Probe with questions more than telling personal stories.
  6. Send a handwritten thank-you note on personal stationary.
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