Written by Temi Onanuga
Challenge your networking skills:
Human beings are social creatures; don’t underestimate your existing networks.
- Networking is all about building personal connections to expand your knowledge
and social community.
- Networks consist of peers who share a profession, level of responsibility or interests.
- Networking begins at home, with your family connections.
- Your “Networking Quotient” (NQ) measures your networking ability.
- Map your networks to determine your NQ.
- Good networkers are not necessarily extroverts.
- Good networkers are knowledgeable, which enables them to conduct meaningful conversations about many subjects.
- Graduating from a prestigious college or university accelerates networking.
- Building strong networks requires planning.
Types of Networks
Networks come in all shapes and sizes and can comprise many different individuals.
They also can be highly focused. Network types are:
- Peer-to-peer – These networks include individuals who have similar occupations,
roles and status in different organizations. They resemble professional trade associations, in that members share information about their best practices, engage each other at a high level and inform one another about innovative programs. Through this kind of information exchange, they improve their job performance, conserve resources, reduce risk and accelerate innovation. The Internet magnifies the power of these kinds of high-level discussions, advancing the entire profession.
- Organizational – These networks may be either formal or informal. Formal Organizational charts show who reports to whom, but they do not show who talks to whom. They don’t explain how people actually do their work. Informal organizational networks reveal organizational politics. They indicate who goes to whom for information and who has the real power. Some organizations create networks to accomplish short-term tasks. The network dissolves when it completes the task.
- Communities of practice (CoPs) – People with similar interests create these networks to address common problems. CoPs have three distinguishing components: a “domain,” or area of shared concern; a “community” that is more than a collection of individuals, in which members do things in groups; and a “practice,” by which knowledge is not just theoretical but is the starting point for action.
Answer these eight questions to determine your networking skill:
- How many people are in your personal, professional and virtual networks?
- How strong are your relationships with the members of your networks?
- How diverse are your networks, in terms of age, gender, culture and profession?
- How high-quality are your network contacts?
- How much effort do you put into building your networks?
- How often do you actively seek contacts?
- How much do you share with others in your networks?
- How often do you use the Internet to expand your networks?