Every year more than 2500 people gather for five days in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss global challenges at the World Economic Forum. This meeting brings together many of the world’s most influential people: presidents, prime ministers, business and financial leaders, journalists and celebrities, from Al Gore to Bill Gates, Bono to Paulo Coelho.
The role of the World Economic Forum, established in 1971 by the Austrian politician Klaus Schwab, is ‘to connect the dots, to provide leaders with a space to proactively focus on the future and develop a forward-looking strategic view in a world that is increasingly interconnected and, at the same time, absorbed by the challenges of the past’.
It is the very act of bringing these diverse people together that makes the meeting of minds at Davos so vital. As Schwab put it,
Progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.
Connecting and collaborating with others of diverse skills and experience helps to compensate for our own personal weaknesses.
We all have individual strengths, passions and experience to draw on. But if we dwell only on our strengths and ignore our weaknesses we risk getting left behind.
Likewise, when we only connect with like-minded people or those we’ve hung around with forever (something that happens a lot more than you may realize!) this also stifles our growth.
It’s natural that we connect most with others in our own organisation or vocation. Lawyers spend time with others in the legal profession, small business people share their business challenges with others working in a similar area, and graduates share their early career frustrations with fellow graduates. At some point, however, this conversation becomes limited. Imagine the colour of the conversation if instead you had lawyers, accountants, creatives, millennials and baby boomers discussing the various solutions to a problem. Imagine the different perspectives shared, the varying insights, the depth of conversation that would stretch thinking and push perspective further.
Building a network that works comes down to developing diverse connections that really matter.
It's all about people power and it’s so much more than finding a safe like-minded tribe. It requires a diversity of age, gender, experience and expertise that will:
- Challenge thinking
- Drive further questioning
- Push boundaries
- Increase personal awareness
- Bring to the forefront opportunities that were previously not in the direct line of vision
- Create innovations that were once not thought possible.
Embracing people power and connecting with a diverse network builds your competitive advantage.
What area are you weak at or lacking in? Why not make a concerted effort to seek out and connect with someone who is strong in that particular area. You never know, maybe just like the conversations between Hollywood superstars, global musicians, politicians and CEOs at this year’s Davos meeting you might find the difference of opinion and skills gives you the answers you have been looking for.