We are living in an age of extremes. On the one hand obsessing about the quantity of 'friends' and size of the database we are rapidly trying to accumulate. On the other, struggling with the busyness of life and finding the time to keep in touch with said network.
There is no doubt that networking is an important part of building personal and business success. The adage, 'it's not what you know it's who you know', has significantly more weight in this 21st century world of busyness, where jobs are taken before they are advertised, previously unthought-of collaborations appear out of the woodwork stealing market share, even creating new markets, and everyone seems to know everyone else on social media.
Networking has become a numbers game, a transactional collating of business cards (or social media connections), of names and likes. Of course we need to build lists for sales but when do connections become something more than the transactional swapping of business cards, contra liking or database building?
We are stuck in a rut of 'transactional networking' - building connections that are shallow with no real value. We are not strategically managing our networks or leveraging human connection to drive exponential growth and success.
- Conversations have become short and succinct with three letter acronyms replacing words and shallow conversation becoming as normal as a discussion about the weekend's weather
- Multi-tasking means we are challenged to be truly present, continuously jumping from one group to the next. There is no time to truly think, to connect the dots, to see the opportunities that are hiding in the wings waiting to be activated
- Connections have become transactional - a 'let's connect' on social media, a ‘like’ of an article or accepting a connection request
Research has shown that executives who excel in performance and wellbeing have diverse networks - high-quality relationships with people from different spheres.
One has the ability to comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships in terms of the people known by name and keep in social contact with said group. Too large a group is not ideal, as this naturally results in further sub-groups.
Real influence starts with a significantly smaller network; one where you are at the centre. A smaller group of up to 12 key people who provide quality of thinking, mastery of knowledge, creating new perspectives, pushing you further than you could ever go alone, supporting you and taking great pleasure in seeing you succeed - because they believe in you. It is here that transformational connections are made possible.
This is when connections have the ability to transform thinking, behaviour and impact. This is when the 'connected you' becomes 'influential you'. Where you can change the game, make the impossible possible, inspire others to take action, connect people with ideas and dreams and connect those ideas and dreams to action, to a new reality.
Effective networking has to be about the genuine - about the interplay of a select group of people who are working closely together, strategically creating plans to succeed.
Take a long hard look at your network and ask yourself:
- Who really matters?
- Who is teaching you mastery and knowledge?
- Who is the key influencer pushing you to be and do more, holding you accountable to your dreams?
- Who is promoting you, acting as your personal cheer squad, inspiring you to become more?
- Who is keeping you balanced and aligned, caring and connecting you with others?
- Who are the dream stealers and the energy zappers that you need to step away from?
Stand solidly in the centre of your circle of influence and build transformational connections that exponentially drive personal growth. Invest time and energy in the mutual exchange of value amongst a core group because on the other side of this lies trust, depth of understanding, connected visions and goals - this is your future.