Janine's article about quality not quantity was published in The Australian on 28th October 2017.
Networking is about quality not quantity for any durable success
There is no doubt the explosion of social media has turned the world of face-to-face interactions upside down.
Social media has created previously unimagined opportunities and ways of connecting with our colleagues, peers and existing and future clients worldwide — all at the touch of a button.
New networking sites are popping up every minute, LinkedIn is growing at a rate of two members a second and, according to statista.com, the power of social networking is such that the number of worldwide users is expected to reach about 2.95 billion by 2020, about a third of the global population.
Yet the technology that was supposed to connect us and bring us closer together seems to be having the reverse effect, connecting us to the digital world rather than to each other.
The bottom line is that networking is about quality, not quantity. We don’t need more contacts, we don’t need more friends and we don’t necessarily need to spend more time connecting online. If this were all we needed then every one of us would be enjoying unparalleled success through the sheer number of opportunities we have to connect. The focus should move from how many people you know to who are the right people to know.
Building a network is an art and a science.
It is an art in that it requires basic human skills in communication, connection, authenticity and the ability to be “in the present” and engaged with people and conversations.
It is a science in that building your network strategically requires continuing analysis and audit of your network, and a sustained curiosity around whether you are leveraging your network in the best way you can.
It’s about seeing the lines that connect people and ideas and create opportunity.
In “Building an Innovation Factory” in the Harvard Business Review, Andrew Hargadon and Robert I. Sutton discuss how to broker and capture good ideas for true and long-lasting effect.
One of the companies studied is IDEO, an international design and consulting firm founded in Palo Alto, California.
The most respected people at IDEO are part pack rat (they have great private collections of stuff), part librarian (they know who knows what) and part good Samaritan (they go out of their way to share what they know and to help others).
Approach your network in a similar way.
You need a personal board of advisers who add to your thinking and bring out the best in you; an intelligence bank of the right people with the right strengths and skills that will sustain you across the long term; and a marketing machine that champions you and your cause, that will drive your net worth and influence, creating opportunities for you to tap into what’s around you.
A strong connected and mutually beneficial network and the intentional support of another helps to boost confidence, achieve clear goals, create business leads and support decision-making.
Get in control of your network and focus on quality over quantity. Surround yourself with the right people, people who will guide and mentor you and cheer you on, people who will share you and your success. Choose your network wisely.
As US president Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world. But I can sure pick smart colleagues.”
Janine Garner is chief executive of LBD Group and author of It’s Who You Know.
This article originally appeared in The Australian