Networked or overworked?

What is your network? How large is it? How varied, how supportive for you is your network? If you think this is a simple exercise or question, you probably don’t have the right network yet.

It amazes me how many ‘senior’ business people are less than interested about building, cultivating and maintaining their professional network (and I do NOT mean that LinkedIn is the solution–it ain’t). In my experience, an executive worth their salt will, from day one in a new company or a new job, regularly spend face time with people, over a coffee, lunch, afternoon tea or drink, etc.

“What?” in the day of skype and mobile apps, you ask, “Who has time for that?” If you could check the calendar of many senior executives, you’d see that they are NOT spending their lunches at their desks, but booked with working lunches more often than not, same for breakfasts. It doesn’t mean they are working the crowd every single lunch, but they ARE spending their time interfacing with others, whether colleagues, customers, peers, whomever; they’re visible. I see them around town at breakfasts, coffees, clubs, at meetings or conferences, articles on-line, and so on, but they are not beholden to email or text; they want to see and be seen, hear and be heard. And they’re in public demand more often than not.

A network is a garden; you have to water it, pull out the weeds that choke the rest, make sure there’s sunlight and tend to it, or it withers away.

A good professional network includes many different levels of support, from superiors, subordinates, peers, customers, friends, not a monolithic group.

A good network lets others know what you’re doing, represents (and defends) you appropriately, supports you in the marketplace and/or inside the company, keeps you updated about your personal brand and reputation–your finger is on the pulse of the market, not on the keyboard..

The underlying premise of your own network is to increase and maintain your physical and virtual presence. You never know when you’ll need to leverage your network, and starting it when you’re in a bind is too late.. People are your network, not an app.

If your the network in place, this is likely a boring or irrelevant read. If, however, you don’t have it at the level you should, get moving before it’s too late.

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