To build relationship capital, be a mindful networker
Be a mindful networker to achieve the best results
In order to build relationship capital that you can use and benefit from, make sure you work tactically at being a mindful networker.
A workshop participant looked horrified at the idea of creating a strategic network to propel her career forward to the next level. “That’s crass and tacky” she said bluntly. “I could never do that. It wouldn’t feel genuine”
Dorothy Dalton, CEO of 3Plus International commented; “This is not uncommon for women. Many women hate the idea of creating a strategic network. They think it requires them to be inauthentic. They are reluctant to network strategically and instead, focus on building relationships slowly over time. But eventually, once they have a good relationship, they are reluctant “abuse” it for professional support. This leads to them avoiding what I call the “big ask.” We know that last minute networking doesn’t work and networks built on chance encounters aren’t always the ones you need. So if you struggle with the term “strategic networking,” Dalton suggests replacing it with the idea of becoming a “mindful networker.”
Neglecting your network can damage or limit your career, your role as a leader and impact your business. This applies to both men and women, but women tend to fall into the trap more frequently than men. The best relationships and connections are always an asset to help open doors to promotions, earning and business opportunities and critical or simply helpful information. This can be for personal or business use.
Relationship Capital is important to the growth of an organisation. It is the sum of an organisation’s connectivity to the marketplace, both directly and indirectly. The process by which you identify, evaluate and employ your relationship capital is referred to as Relationship Capital Management (RCM). It is vital for both your career and your organisation.
Debunk the misconceptions
But frequently, although women know that they should build and develop a strategic network, many try to avoid it. There are some basic misconceptions about networking that need to be debunked. Many women think networking is:
• Transactional and superficial;
• About being pushy and political;
• The number of contacts I have;
• For the socially skilled and out-going;
• With people who want something from me;
• Underhanded and devious.
To get over this you need to use the following four principles.
Don’t worry about being out of the networking loop. Our Returner Roll-Up Session can help you with Getting Back on the Networking Horse.
1. Work out your relationship capital
Map out the bones of your network relationships into different categories – look at the nature of the relationship and label them. Are they professional or personal? Sector or functional? Look at the level of seniority and whether it’s more of a one-sided connection, or a deep and trusted one. Is your network similar to you? How interconnected is your network, and are your relationships current?
When you calculate your relationship capital, you need to break your network down into 6 categories:
1. Seniority of the contact
2. Type of relationship
3. Strength of relationship
4. Depth of the relationship at an organisational level
5. Length of duration of the relationship
6. Activity levels and types
2. Assess your networking needs
Everyone needs different network connections to do their jobs – so what do you need to help you advance your career and your business? What resources or access do you need and who has them? Who in your network has those resources? Focus on both a mid-term and a longer-term need. Make sure you include connecting to a sponsor. This could mean raising your visibility within your own organisation, or if you are keeping touch with the market, an external contact.
Ask yourself who is missing?
3. Become a mindful networker
Building and strengthening your network takes time and shouldn’t be left until you have an emergency. The best time to network is when you have no immediate need and can maybe offer support or value to someone else. If you don’t like the word strategic – use the word mindful. This means you are considered in your approach. Being a mindful networker means following a plan about what sort of network you need so that you initiate, maintain and nurture your connections. As a result, when you come to leverage it, your action will be a seamless part of an established relationship.
4. Small daily habits work
It’s always good to attend big high-profile conferences, large cocktails and events, but to be a mindful networker it can be achieved at a much more mundane level, as part of your normal routine. It can be about becoming a mentor or sponsor yourself, volunteering for different projects, going for coffees, introducing yourself to someone from a different department or function, or someone who simply is different to you.
Becoming a mindful networker and integrating these basic tips into your networking routine allows you to create strong thoughtful relationships which are mutually beneficial.
LinkedIn is the perfect tool for networking, as long as you are using it correctly. Try this for How to make the most of your LinkedIn for career and business success.
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