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Do You Have a 360° Network?

This is a guest post by  Rania Anderson, author of The Way Women Work and Undeterred.


 

Successful women and men have a 360 ​​° network. Do you?

I see people spend a lot of time attending networking events and meeting people for coffee or lunch, but I see them devoting time to building networks that can help them be more successful.

Their mistake: spending all of their time with people that they already know, with people like them and with people of the same age and gender.

In order to be successful, we all need a diverse and robust network, with various types of relationships (consider the relationships between words, not only with contacts).

Here are five directions in which you need to create networks: above, below, throughout, inside and outside.

ABOVE

The ”ABOVE” network includes people that are older (metaphorically speaking), with more experience and who are more influential than you are. These people are able to become mentors or even be future partners or investors. These are the people that are able to open doors and make introductions; create opportunities. If you are an entrepreneur, these are probably the people with access to finance.

Where/how to contact these people: In specific industry events, conferences and congresses.

BELOW

The “BELOW” network is the network with people that are younger or more inexperienced than you. These people can serve as mentees or mentors that can teach you about new innovations.  The usually have access to information and have different types of contribution.

Where/how to contact these people: In universities, in coffee shops, through friends and family, or on social networks.

THROUGH

The “THROUGH” network is developed with colleagues working in the same or different departments as you do. These are the people with regular work. If you have a strong relationship with them, you’ll be able to turn to them for help and give them ideas about the best ways to get something within your organization. They can contribute more knowledge or warn you about the political landmines. Our peers are usually our strongest critics and the lack of strong peer relationships make it very difficult to succeed.

Where/how to contact these people: In your work space.

INSIDE

The “INSIDE” network has to do with people in the industry in which you work, including clients and users. Solid relationships with clients will bring business development opportunities. Whether you are in front of the client or not, relationships with clients and/or users are fundamental for the comprehension of their needs, competition and market forces. Lack of customer relationships is a weakness that I see with many women I coach. The result is that these women in new businesses have a very narrow understanding of customers and of the market needs which results in lower compensation and less promotional opportunities.

Where/how to contact these people: In client events, networking events, one-on-one meetings, conferences, industry events and social networks.

OUTSIDE

The “OUTSIDE” network is comprised of people that work in the field but are not related to your industry. These are commonly referred to as weak ties. These people will be able to serve as referral partners or service providers, such as bankers,  financial advisors, lawyers or people in completely different fields. This is one part of the network  that people often overlook or do not have time to dedicate. Big mistake! These exterior relationships are those that expand our prospects and lead to strategic and innovative ideas. These are outside relationships that often lead to new opportunities.

Where/how to contact these people: In their community, in cross-industry tests, through family and friends, through their mentors.

THE STRENGTH OF WEAK TIES

In the 1970’s, the U.S. sociologist, Mark Granovetter, published a document titled  The strength of weak ties, recognized as one of the most influential  publications of sociology ever written. Granovetter showed that people that we know well operate in the same circles as us and they know what we already know. On the contrary, people that operate in different circles have access to different information than us. Strong ties result in support networks, weak ties build bridges where we want to go.

It’s your turn to act: Evaluate the strength of your network in each one of these 5 groups. Do you have strong relationships with each one of these networks? How often are you nurturing these relationships? What else do you need to do to expand this network?

Continue reading here.


 

Author Biography: Rania Anderson, author of Undeterred: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies and founder of The Way Women Work is a highlighted authority in the professional development of women in emerging and developing countries. With a strong conviction that women are the key to global prosperity she dedicates herself to helping women prosper. She is a global speaker, an executive coach, founder of a network of female angel investors and a contributor in business publications.


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