back to a cocktail party you recently attended.
You will recall that there were guests who seemed to know
almost everyone in the room, moving from group to group
with great ease, leaving no hand unshaken. Others, meanwhile,
stood either alone or with just one other person for what
seemed like hours, chatting stiffly and appearing as if
they couldn't wait to be on their way home. Which type would
you expect to accomplish more in his or her career? Why?
The ability to relate well with others is a sign of a
person's mastery of the art of networking.
NETWORKING IS IMPORTANT
In the traditional corporate culture that existed
until the 1980s, an executive gave an order and subordinates
were expected to follow it no questions asked. Today,
companies are constantly reorganizing. Clear cut lines of
authority have faded.
The actions and attitudes of superiors, subordinates, colleagues,
customers, suppliers, competitors and government regulators
are more important than ever to the success of your efforts,
because each individual plays a key role in today's tight,
anti-bureaucratic world. How well you do your job ...
your pay raises and promotions ... depend on your ability
to network with all of these different people. In addition,
in today's downsized business climate, the people whose
help you need to get your job done may be located in another
department ... another company ... or even on another continent.
To build a network and help others build
networks managers must learn to use five key principles...
Relationships are a basic human need. Helping other people
fulfill their need for relationships helps you, too.
If you form lasting relationships with suppliers they will
be more likely to come through for you in a pinch. Your
fuel oil dealer, for example, will supply you during a shortage,
if he trusts you to stick with him when competition heats
People tend to do what is expected of them. If you expect
the best of people, they will usually meet that standard.
If you expect less, you will get less. Smart networking
means building strong relationships that benefit both sides.
You can't buy this kind of dedication with monetary rewards,
for two reasons: It costs the company too much... and employees
resent the thought that they are being bought like commodities.
Convey expectations of high performance by encouraging
input in the goal-setting process ... not to set basic
strategy, but to decide how to achieve company goals. Invest
time and effort in employee training ... give employees
challenging assignments. Supply frequent feedback in as
positive a way as possible, using past performance as a
guide for future improvement. The result of these efforts
will be enthusiasm on the part of members of your group,
which invariably creates a strong foundation for lasting,
mutually beneficial relationships.
People tend to associate with others similar to themselves.
This tendency has both positive and negative consequences.
Advantage: By bringing
together people with similar interests, you can build strong
creative teams. This helps you, the manager, to earn
the respect and cooperation of a wider spectrum of specialists.
Putting company scientists and engineers into one building,
rather than segregating them by specialty, helps to generate
Downside: When people
associate exclusively with others similar to themselves,
they lose touch with the real world.
Senior executives who avoid contact with the rank and file
often find out about serious problems only when it's already
Repeated interaction encourages cooperation. People who
repeatedly come into contact with each other tend to develop
positive relationships, especially when they share a common
When you set up a task force, encourage maximum cooperation
by providing a reward for the entire group
when it achieves its goal. Consider a compensation arrangement
like that used by AT&T Global Information Solutions
(formerly NCR), where raises depend 50% on individual performance
and 50% on the results of the entire unit.
It's a small world. You are surprisingly close to critical
information, resources and people. The average professional
knows 3,500 people directly... and each of those people
has a similar number of contacts.
Just a few well-placed phone calls to friends and
friends of friends can get you in touch with almost
anybody in the country. You will have a much better chance
of forming a new relationship quickly if you can use the
name of a mutual acquaintance even someone you don't
really know very well to introduce yourself to your target.
In addition to the five principles, effective networking
depends on managing your personal relationships in three
with your bosses...
Down, with your
with peers inside and outside the company.
In all three directions, effective networking means that
you identify key relationships,
build mutual understanding and act in ways that
benefit both sides.
BUILD AN EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT NETWORK
Make a list of critical contacts those relationships
that are particularly important for your effectiveness.
Identify critical gaps personal relationships
you need but don't yet have.
Don't rely on memory. For two weeks, keep a log of all your
interactions who, what, where, why. Put each person
on a card and arrange the cards in order of the importance
of the relationship. This will tell you how you should be
dividing your time.
Work to improve your critical relationships. Think of what
the other people need and find ways you can help them do
their jobs better. Fill the gaps. Get together with
new people who are important to you... have yourself introduced
or introduce yourself ... invite them to lunch.
In the long run: Get
used to continuously appraising all of your relationships
and try to get and give as much feedback as possible. Networking
is a lifelong project.