From Avoiders to Evangelists:
Three Steps to Improve Your Leader's Networks
The foundation of any successful business lays upon the quality of its top performers and their willingness to collaborate efficiently with both the internal and external forces surrounding them. Cultivating connections with other professionals in a similar field may present a unique opportunity for aspiring leaders to gain access to resources that otherwise may not be readily available to them.
As do many sectors of the corporate sphere, the concept of networking has been proven to encompass notable gender disparities as there is a strong correlation between a professional’s sex and their ability to network efficiently. It has been observed that many women take a social approach to this process, as they often utilize strong social ties while applying greater emotional intensity to these relationships. Nevertheless, female leaders also have the tendency to develop connections with individuals who fall below their own level of occupational success, thus producing a less effective network that does not match their accomplishments.
In contrast, male professionals have been known to act with a much greater economic focus given their traditionally utilitarian outlook on career building. This strategy encourages these men to construct more widespread networks that mainly consist of individuals who exist above them on the socioeconomic ladder. Given that many actions taken by professionals are a response to raw natural instincts and biological ones at that, it is now the obligation of socially progressive companies to help level the playing so all of their leaders can coexist in an equitable work environment.
"On average, women's networks are 38% less effective than men's"
1 Emphasize the Importance of Understanding One’s Network
2 Assist Leaders in Achieving Individualized Goals
3 Sponsor Intentional Network Maintenance
Five Connection Strategies
I. The Ask
Reaching out to someone you already know to ask for advice
II. Thank You Note
A way to illustrate that something someone did resonated with you
Acknowledge other's achievements so you feel more comfortable reaching out when necessary
A simple way to maintain a connection over time
V. Reaching Out
Let someone know you're reminded of them, regardless of the context
The networking process becomes much more constructive once it is properly understood by aspiring professionals, as it lays the foundation for an attainable career goal. Accordingly, it becomes much more probable that top performers will meet their advancement needs once they are formally educated on the significance of expanding one’s network and provided individualized steps on how to do so. Having leaders recognize the importance of constructing a prosperous network for themselves is an asset for any company as this process allows individuals to reflect on their professional desires which may or may not be currently met. By defining or navigating an unforeseen career path, there will inevitably be a greater sentiment of satisfaction on behalf of both parties in the sense that better work will be completed, or alternatively, proper steps for reassignment of the individual who would be better suited elsewhere could be implemented.
Leveraging one’s network to acquire a range of connections that encompass an assortment of that leader’s interests requires a generous amount of effort and attention to detail. Professional goals vary drastically depending on the individual in question, meaning that a personalized pathway with distinct steps is a crucial element of meeting one’s ambition, and this all begins with the quality of their network.
While encouraging top performers to meet their individual career goals, companies must aim to assist in developing an effective plan for their top performers. A conventional pathway often begins with the development of a specific goal, typically a long-term one, which all future networking efforts would revolve around. The next courses of action often include a wide array of responsibilities such as establishing a business objective, a networking goal, and recognizing appropriate ideal connections. Thus, there is great value in having employers facilitate an exchange for their leaders with ICs by drawing out appropriate contacts who could furthest advance occupational desires as this could create a more fluid and effective process.
In order to train your leaders to maximize their cluster of connections, networking must be framed as an ongoing process rather than an occasional occurrence. Effectively fostering a web of contacts requires constant attention and effort, though by implementing five primary connection strategies in one’s daily routine, it becomes much easier to not only maintain existing connections but additionally advance new relationships.
These tactics are valuable in reminding leaders of their professional value, especially in the sense of being able to offer reciprocity to these connections, while also creating a foundation in which they feel comfortable reaching out.