In today’s hectic world, managers are very rarely self sufficient. They need the support, goodwill and cooperation of their bosses, colleagues and staff to deliver their goals and objectives. Those that consistently achieve results have invariably established a strong network and laid the foundations for gaining cooperation and support for their ideas.
It is important to recognise that businesses and organisations don’t “bequeath” networks to their staff. Networks are developed between people who stand to benefit from their mutual associations and interactions. But as a manager in an organisation, how do you identify those that should be in your network and how do you build a network once you know who you need?
Clearly it takes time and effort to build a network, but the following hints can help you to build new networks to meet your needs.
- Firstly identify your own needs.What support, advice or cooperation do you need and from whom in particular?
- Secondly, determine what you have to offer a network.Do you have specialist knowledge or expertise that is needed by others?Do you have personal time or staff available to help others?
- Identify people in your organisation who have been successful in achieving results and influencing others.How well do you know these people?Find out how they established their network and see if you can link into theirs.
- Sketch out a map of your potential network, identify names and roles etc, the ways that they can support you and you can support them.
- Develop a plan to contact these people to build a relationship.Make your initial meeting an informal one perhaps over lunch or coffee, with the purpose of identifying common interests and needs.
- Once you have developed a rapport with them it is important to stay in regular contact on a monthly or bimonthly basis.Most people will not appreciate being asked for a favour when you haven’t made the effort to stay in touch with them for the past 18 months.
It is important to remember that networks are dynamic and constantly changing. Once a relationship has been build, you cannot simply relax and expect “something to happen”. It is vital to nurture your network by contacting people periodically, helping when you can and building links between what you and other people in your network are doing. In this way your network will grow as time goes by.