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  • Writer's pictureOlivier SE Courtois

Effective Networking: How Do You Boost Your Career & Performance?

We never stop learning. I have just been certified in Leadership Network Diagnostic, developed by Phil Willburn & Dr. Kristin Cullen-Lester. Here are some highlights.

Leaders who network effectively are informed earlier, seize more opportunities, are likely to be in the top 20%, are promoted faster, and have more influence. People with a good network are 36% to 42% more likely to receive the best performance evaluations, 43% to 72% more likely to be promoted, and 42% to 74% more likely to be retained by the company. 

So, what are the four characteristics of effective networks? They are:

  • Open: how many people in your network don’t know each other?

  • Diverse: you connect across boundaries such as vertical (across levels of hierarchy), horizontal (across functions and enterprise), stakeholder (beyond your company), demographic (across different groups like gender or nationality), geographic (across regions and locality).

  • Deep: a level of trust, reciprocity, and frequency of interactions that allow you to ask questions, reach out, or make a request.

  • Resourceful: eight types of resources support you professionally and personally now and in the future. 

How many people should be in your network? This is a crucial question, as one needs time to maintain an effective network.

  • Active network (with at least one connection in the last six months) and strong ties: between 10 and 15 people.

  • Active network with weak ties (for example, people you follow actively on social media): 50 max.

  • Dormant network (no connection in the last six months) with strong ties: an old, active connection that can be reactivated anytime, picking up where it left off.

  • Dormant network with weak ties: your typical social networks.

Reassuring news: introverts have the same networking opportunities and abilities as extroverts. The nature and frequency of their interactions may vary, but there are enough networking modes to suit everyone.

Another interesting feature is that women and men are equal regarding networking. Except for one point, when it comes to resources, one of the eight essential resources, Sponsoring, i.e., benefiting from advice and career opportunities from third parties, works better for men. Women, on average, seem to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. Negative bias or a different approach? Room for research and debate.

From newly hired to seasoned executives, I've noticed that networking isn't always managed as a priority. Fear of being perceived as too opportunistic, a casual rather than strategic approach, lack of interest, a tendency to stay within one's circle of 'thinkalikes,' and lack of time are why. As professionals, we have the opportunity to help managers develop this skill not only for their benefit but also for the benefit of the company. Indeed, an organization with superior individual networks is better equipped to seize opportunities, attract and retain the best talent, and, ultimately, outperform other organizations.


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