Creating, Maintaining and Expanding Professional Networks
Professional networks are a valuable source of insight and information to improve your business. Have you tapped into a professional network yet?
In the academic world, there is an adage that says, “Publish or perish.”
It points to the necessity of publishing research and thought leadership pieces in order to remain relevant within one’s field.
Modern business has its own set of popular requirements.
While publishing never hurts, the main determinate of success in today’s world is your professional network.
The Importance of Professional Networks
- The right networks provide access to information and advice as well as problem solving.
- You can leverage the people you know to get new ideas and uncover opportunities.
Networks are also important in the way that they let you stay in touch with your co-workers, employees, customers, industry leaders, influencers, and more.
You might rely on your network to uncover a new supplier for your business, find a new employer, meet a new potential distributor, or make a play for a promotion.
Understanding Network Science
Network science explains these connections.
Take entrepreneurship for instance.
“Network science is the area which has diverse characteristics for entrepreneurs, e.g., size, position and structure of a network of entrepreneurs,” explains Nasrullah Memon of the The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute, University of Southern Denmark, in research published on Science Direct.
“By enhancing the size of the network, the entrepreneurs may get important knowledge from others,”
“In order to find different positions entrepreneurs may be able to find different roles (leader, broker, peripheral) in the network. The structure of the network may be helpful for entrepreneurs in order to organize, and expand the opportunities which are available to the entrepreneur.”
Networks and Your Business
The importance of networks is not limited to new companies either.
We are living in what BusinessBlogs calls an Information Revolution:
“Much like the industrial revolution that changed the way goods were produced, this information revolution is changing how trends are produced.”
However, the relationship is not simplistic.
The connections you create are very complex and they have nuances that are critical to maintaining those ties.
For example, a network might have its own communication preferences and trends — like an email chain of programmers who like to share memes or a group of a managers who meet for drinks once a month.
You will need to respect those tendencies if you are going to maintain those specific connections.
There is also the issue of other networks.
From parents to political parties, residents of a certain community or frequent fliers, each of these groups are connected to other groups, explains BusinessBlogs. Those connections can have far reaching implications within their own existing networks because they are connected in multiple ways …
The resulting connected systems are continually overlapping each other.
The Seventh Sense
Understanding how different networks interact is the key to being able to impact those systems.
Best-selling author Joshua Cooper Ramo calls it the Seventh Sense.
“The secret to power now is understanding our new age of networks—not merely the Internet but also networks of trade and DNA and finance,” Ramo writes. “The Seventh Sense is the story of what all of today’s successful figures see and feel—forces that are invisible to most of us but explain everything from explosive technological change to uneasy political ripples.”
Work on creating, maintaining, and expanding your professional networks by taking the time to understand the standards and preferences of each networks as well as how one network impacts another. The more attention you can give to these connections, the better you will be able to effect real change in your organization and your career.