Activate Your Network!

There are four types of networking that help accelerate our career development.  Do you know what they are?  And if so, are you spending enough time on each?

In previous blogs I identified the importance of exploring the possibilities and communicating our value as two of three keys to finding the right opportunity. Networking the right way is the third.  “Activating” our network provides us with the information and exposure needed to take our career to the next level. Your goal should be to invest a minimum of two hours a month networking – or 30 minutes each on the four networking types.

Industry Networking

The goal of industry networking is to increase our business acumen over time.  The people we network with can work within or outside our organization.  During the meeting we spend time sharing how our industry works.  Areas of discussion during industry networking include understanding:

  • Who are our target customers and what value do they want from our organization?
  • How do companies in our industry make money? What are the key drivers of revenue and profit?
  • What is the future of our industry? What are the tailwinds and headwinds to growth?
  • What skills and experiences will managers look for in the next three to five years?

Getting answers to the above questions helps use match our abilities and skills with future job opportunities.

Company Networking

Networking with people internally in our organization, but outside our department, increases our exposure.  When taking jobs with increased scope and responsibility it is important to collaborate with colleagues across the organization.  Areas of discussion during company networking include understanding:

  • What departments must we work with to achieve our goals?
  • What other areas can use our skills and experience?
  • Which people do we need to influence to grow our career?

Company networking allows us to build relationships before we need them.

Social Networking

The goal of social networking is to tap into other’s networks.  It is not just who we know, but who others know that is important.  Our friends, family, and colleagues all know people that can help us increase our knowledge, identify job opportunities, and provide introductions to hiring managers.  Areas of discussion during social networking include understanding:

  • What trends in your work should I follow and pay special attention?
  • What influential people do you know in my industry? Company?
  • How can I help you achieve your goals?
  • To whom, in my network, may I introduce you?

Social networking is an effective way for us to get warm introductions and be seen as credible because we were connected through friends in our social circle.

Role / Job Networking

The goal of role networking is to grow our functional knowledge.  One of the best ways to accomplish this is to talk to people who have the same role we have at our company, but they work in another industry.  Industries mature at different rates.  The adoption of business practices and technology varies by industry.  For example, the use of artificial intelligence might be more prevalent in the manufacturing and software industries compared to retail and education.  Areas of discussion during role networking include understanding:

  • What trends are impacting your industry and company the most?
  • Which technological advances are your industry likely to adopt in the future? Why?
  • What skills and experiences will be in demand in the next three to five years? Why?
  • How does your company invest in your development?

Role networking allows us to identify political, economic, social, and technological trends that might impact our industry sooner and prepare to exploit or mitigate their impact.


Bottom Line

Investing the time to network the right way allows us to deliver results in our current role while preparing for our next role.

Want more Career and Leadership Advice?

Develop: 7 Practical Tools to Take Charge of Your Career

Stay up to date on career and leadership content, book news, and events.

Learn more about having ted speak to your organization

Share This Post

More From The Blog...

The 3-Year Job Cycle

I recently caught up with the 2015 Class of my human resources leadership development program.  After sharing updates on engagements, marriages, children, and current living

Read More »