Networking: how the weakest link could be your competitive advantage

Even if networking fills you with dread.

In my experience the people who are the most successful at getting the work done are the ones that are good at networking  and get on well with others. When we have good relationships, colleagues, business partners and friends go out of their way to help us, and we do the same for those people we like and trust, either first, or in return.

Building solid relationships and networks, to solve problems, offer support and guidance or even just to throw in the occasional word of encouragement or pat on the back could be the difference between success and failure.

There is however a paradox, that the weak ties in your network, the ones where you are an acquaintance rather than a great buddy are the ones that offer you the most opportunity.

As far back as the 1970’s, sociologist Mark Granovetter researched the strength of weak ties and found that in marketing, information science, or politics, weak ties enable reaching populations and audiences that are not accessible via strong ties.

This means that recommendations and referrals are becoming more important than ever before. If the opportunities are bigger with weak ties, being on the edge of networks or the only common link between groups of people has definite advantages.

Yet, despite this insight, we more often than not huddle together with the people we already know at conferences and events. It feels safer that way. It’s important to get on with our colleagues. Right?

Or we go to the same events year in and year out and meet the same people we already know time and time again.

And when ‘networking’ is mentioned as an activity we tend to shudder and come over in a cold sweat. The thought of attending a networking event, showing up in a roomful of strangers armed with business cards and ready to make polite conversation fills us with dread.

That’s why at Lucidity we’ve developed networking training for teams to help you overcome your fear, develop weak ties, put yourself in the position to have more opportunities and perhaps even enjoy yourself in the process.

If you’d like some more information then get in touch, but for now here’s three tips to get you started.

Three tips for better networking

  1. Go to events that are outside of your ‘usual’ network, where there will be opportunities to meet different people who you can form those weak ties with
  2. Approach networking with an attitude of how you might be able to help solve problems for other people in the room
  3. Learn tips to politely excuse yourself from discussions you don’t get stuck in boring conversations.

And finally – put your networking into practice. I run regular ‘Random connection’ online networking made easy sessions. To get details of the next one as well as a regular dose of inspiration and practical tips to build your confidence to be more effective at work join me weekly email. Sign up here. 

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