Network’s net worth

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Network’s net worth

Logging on to online networks for work reasons has its advantages — and disadvantages. You also need to know how to play it right

By Oksana Tashakova

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Published: Fri 19 Jul 2013, 6:40 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:39 PM

Can you identify your personal and professional networks? How strong are they? How diverse? Networks can help you in more ways than you can understand: they’re not just about finding jobs. We are social creatures and we’re inspired and helped by our contacts with others.

Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap of Harvard Business Review (HBR) describe how networks are behind world-changing breakthroughs and works of art, that connections contributed to works by Freud and Picasso, Pythagoras and 
Watson. The duo explain that diverse networks are key — not networks made up of people similar to yourself — as they offer access to different skill sets, information that you wouldn’t be privy to otherwise and considerable leverage.

Deborah Mills-Scofield of HBR believes that networks spread forms of communication and knowledge, that they provide an evolutionary advantage. Linda Hill and Kent Lineback in HBR advise creating three different networks: one for daily work, one for your personal and career development and one that is strategic in terms of your future.

Ray Williams of Psychology Today stressed that positive networking is imp-ortant — it is what you can do for others that makes your network strong. Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of business networking organisation BNI, says the characteristics of a good networker are being a good listener, encourager and helper; good networkers also have to be sincere, trustworthy and positive.

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Robbie Abed in an article titled Why Your Professional Network Sucks (and What You Can Do About It) on describes a common experience 
concerning networking. Looking for a new job, you go to LinkedIn to look for connections that might be helpful but then realise that the person you need isn’t in your network. Why?

Because you’re only connected to people from places that you’ve worked in, because you haven’t reached out to connect with new people, because you haven’t helped anyone in your network, because you haven’t communicated regularly with people in your network and because you haven’t shared information about yourself on the network other than posting your CV.

Abed advises meeting people who could possibly help you in the future rather than connecting with only those who can help you now — and doing so in person rather than just online.

Try to connect with people from many different industries and walks of 
life. Respond to emails and invitations, reconnect with people you haven’t 
communicated with and be consistent about checking into your networks.

Darcy Rezac, Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Judy Thompson, authors of Work the Pond, offer networking tips too. They warn against becoming consumed with connections and spending too much time on social media sites or email. Make sure you connect with people in real time. Walk to your colleague’s desk rather than email them. Choose one or two social media avenues rather than 
try to stay on top of blogging, tweeting, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Also, carefully consider everything you post in terms of whether it’s adding to your reputation or helping someone else. You should also Google yourself to determine whether or not there are harmful postings or unflattering images of yourself on the Internet. You may 
find that someone else shares your name. If so, add a middle initial or create a different combination of your names to distinguish yourself from others.

If you’re a business owner, you may want to hire help to manage your website and your presence on the Internet. It can be hard to keep up with all of the postings and opportunities when you’re also 
running a business.The authors say it’s important to think of networking in a different way — a way that includes stri-king up a conversation with the person sitting next to you or the woman you notice at the coffee shop every day.

Real brainstorming and breakthroughs occur through random and spontaneous events, not carefully controlled and plotted connections. Steve Jobs once said: “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat... That’s crazy. 
Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions.” Never miss an opportunity to start up or join in a chat with others, no matter who they are or where you are.

Think about how you can truly help others or make them feel good with a kind word. The authors use Maya 
Angelou’s quote to drive this point home: “People will never forget how you make them feel.” That’s what they remember — not what you’ve said or done. This is how you will create real relationships with others, why you will pop up in someone’s head when they hear of something or meet someone that could be of help to you.

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