Mo asks Marissa King: How can we grow our book of business and career through networking?
Research has shown that ⅔ of professionals, even those whose businesses depend on relationships, are actively resistant to the idea of networking. Our relationships are something that we hold dear, so being intentional and strategic about them seems morally off-putting for many people. We know that networking is certainly important and one of the best ways to overcome your initial resistance to it is to think about what you can give in an interaction instead of what you can get. It’s not just networking that matters, it’s your network. Understanding what your network looks like and what its current strengths are is going to be more effective than just increasing the number of people you know. From three decades of social science research, we know that most of the positive outcomes we care about are determined primarily by the type of network we have. We all have certain network signatures and there are three basic types. The first type is the Convener. These people invest a lot in maintaining existing relationships and have a few deep ties. This preference for stability comes with a lot of trust and emotional/psychological support. The second type is a Brokerage network. Brokers tend to straddle multiple social worlds careerwise, and talk to groups that don’t normally talk to each other. They are in the idea import/export business. Brokers have the strongest personality predictor, known as self-monitoring, which is a chameleon effect. The benefits of this type of network are innovation, creativity, and a better work/life balance. The third type is an Expansionist network, which is the quintessential network. Expansionists know exponentially more people than the average person and this kind of network is great for visibility, popularity, and influence. There is extraordinary value in your existing network, no matter what type you have. What are your current strengths and what needs do you have at the moment? Understanding that is your first step. The key to forming and maintaining a really effective network is in tapping to your existing network’s strengths, rather than just growing it. For Conveners, there is great value in reaching out to dormant connections. Those people are much more likely to provide you with new information because of the underlying trust that still remains. One of the best things you can learn from Brokers is focusing on where you are going rather than who you know. Spend time in a new space or learn a new hobby and by simply putting yourself in a new place you are likely to regenerate your network. The Expansionist ability of being able to give from one to many is a strength that anyone can take advantage of.
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