Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, names Larry Summers, from the US Treasury Department and the World Bank, as her first and most important mentor. Fashion designer Yves St Laurent declares that Christian Dior ‘taught me the basis of my art … I never forgot the years I spent at his side’. Facebook gladiator Mark Zuckerberg learned about business and management practices from regular meetings with Apple founder Steve Jobs. Philanthropist and businessman Michael Bloomberg learned teamwork and ethics from William R. Saloman, managing partner of an investment bank where Bloomberg first worked.
A strong, connected and mutually beneficial network provides you with a series of stepping-stones to success. The intentional support of another, with whom you collaborate and share what you know and who you know, pushes you forward in life.
The active and mutual support of others helps to:
- boost confidence
- achieve clear goals
- open doors to opportunity
- create business leads
- support decision making
- pave the path to success.
Countless articles and books have been written about the importance of networking. In his book Highly Effective Networking, Orville Pearson writes, ‘When the economy is good networking is important. In tough times or tough job markets, networking is essential.’
In the 1990s British anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggested there’s a limit to the number of relationships human beings can comfortably maintain — 150, to be precise. It is possible for us to maintain stable relationships with this many others, remembering their names, keeping in contact, doing each other favours. Any more than this, he proposed, leads to fragmentation into subgroups and smaller tribes.
This theory has been challenged a number of times, including most recently by Michael Simmons in ‘How Big Should Your Network Be’ (Forbes, 2 January 2014). Zvi Band, the founder of Contactually, a relationship management tool, argues that in our highly digi-connected world, ‘current software can extend Dunbar’s number by at least two to three times’.
It makes sense that when there are too many members in your group or tribe other subgroups and tribes will start forming, and that this will undermine goals such as sales generation and reduce your network’s influence and impact.
I suggest that momentum begins with a significantly smaller circle of influence - starting with four and then expanding to 12.
So who are the Key 12?
- The Cheerleader – the CEO of your personal cheer club
- The Explorer – questions the why, who, what, where and how and courageously carves out options for you to consider
- The Inspirer – an ambitious, big-picture thinker that awakens you to new possibilities
- The Lover – puts you and your needs first to hep you become the best you can be
- The Connector – connects people and information, joining dots to opportunity
- The Balancer – keeps everything aligned and in check, understanding that success relies on a balance between personal and professional goals
- The Influencer – has already achieved what you dream and is willing to share all they know
- The Professor – constantly pushes you to think better, think deeper and think differently
- The Architect – methodical, astute and financially savvy helping you lay the stepping stones to your goals
- The Truth Sayer – challenges integrity, your honesty and your truth even if this flies in the face of conventional wisdom
- The Accelerator – the master of making things happen accepting no excuses for inaction
- The Mentor – guides and inspires career choice providing wisdom to keep you on track and inspired
A quality network of 12 will allow you to build your future strategically, leverage opportunities and mutually exchange value, accelerating you towards inspirational thinking and exponential growth.
This is the only way you will keep in control and stay in the driving seat of your successful network.
Find out more about the Key 12, how to find them and how you may need to cut from your network in my new book ‘Its Who You Know’.
As Jim Rohn once said, ‘Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.'