Every successful entrepreneur will acknowledge the importance of having a big social network (not social media, but real human connections). In a world with global competition, and highly specialized skills, you can't achieve anything anymore without the help of others. And if you can achieve your dream alone, then you're probably not dreaming big enough!
For leaders it's exactly the same. Unfortunately I regularly hear my clients say something like: "my professional network isn't that big" or "I have actually not invested in building my network". And they all gain once they start creating that network.
Discover here why a solid professional network is so important, and how you can build it easily.
Depending on the position you're in, and on the size of your company, your network will serve you in different ways.
If you're working in a multinational corporate organisation, then your (internal) network can help you find the right resources that are available within the company. Or, when you're planning your next career move, an (internal) network can guide you towards the opportunities.
If you're in a smaller company, then a good network can help you in finding the right specialists or expertise you need to solve a specific problem or challenge.
Of course both examples can be exchanged. So finding internal or external expertise when you're in a bigger company, and/or finding career or sales opportunities through your network when you're in a smaller company.
You can also choose to build you network within the same field of expertise or in the same sector, or you can consciously do the opposite and especially search for people outside of your field.
Both have great advantages. Building a network of peers can help you exchange ideas, ask questions about specific topics, or just find a sparring partner from who you are sure that he/she understands you.
Expanding your network in completely different and other areas can bring you new insights, inspiration, thought provocation, and really open up your world.
If your network is small, too focussed (for example only within the company, or only within one field of interest), or you're not actively engaged in your network, then you're missing out all that great stuff.
So as long as you are open, interested, willing to share and willing to learn, then almost every network can bring you a lot of value!
We even live in a time where it has never been easier to build your network!
There are many ways to do so. You can do it online and/or offline (= in real life).
- Search for interesting Facebook groups around a specific topic and be an active member in that group. And be sure that Facebook is not only about cars, gardening, or other leisure activities. There are a lot of highly professional and specialised groups. An example of that is the Ambitious Leader Community that is hosted by me.
Also LinkedIn has such discussion groups, although they seem a bit more 'empty' and less active.
- Use the Shapr app. This is app is a bit like a dating app (yes, you can swipe left and right to pass or meet people), but then fully focussed on professional contacts and linked to your LinkedIn profile.
- Something in between online and offline networking are Meetups. There is a Meetup on almost any topic, and it always has an online part where you can connect and interact with the participants, and there are the events that are organised by each Meet Up group.
- Offline (= in real life)
- Without any doubt you will find a conference somewhere about a topic that you're specialised in or where you want to get better in.
- Probably there is also a Chamber Of Commerce in the area where your company is located, and probably they also organise different events.
- There is also the concept of Open Coffees or OpenCoffee Club, based on the idea of Saul Klein. In that concept people gather on a specific location, just to meet and chat with each other in a casual atmosphere around business and business opportunities. Especially in Flanders (https://opencoffees.be/) and in the Netherlands (https://opencoffee.nl) the Open Coffee concept is very popular.
You see, there are opportunities enough, and the advantages of having a strong network are great. You only have to invest a bit of your time in building your network, and approach it with an open mind of curiosity.
If you want to start right away with building your network, then do one (or all) of these steps:
- Invite me for a conversation ;-)
No, seriously, who knows where that one conversation can bring us. Everything can start with just one conversation.
- Become an active member of the Ambitious Leader Community: a free group on Facebook for every ambitious leader who wants to connect with peers, who wants to get inspired, who wants to share insights, and who wants to ask questions to like minded people. Click here to join.
- Choose one of the possibilities indicated above, and engage yourself in it for the next 3 months. Then see how many new and interesting connections you've made, and then decide if you keep using that platform or if you want to change your approach.
Good luck in finding great connections!
And if you're worried because you don't have time to build your network, then we should definitely have a conversation because that's something we can overcome! Click here to book a (re-)connect session with me
to have a non-binding and discovering conversation.