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How to Build Your Network

Discover how to build your network and networking styles you can utilise.
AllBright, Sisterhood Works: Marissa King, Anna Jones & Debbie Wosskow, OBE
© AllBright 2020

In this article, you’ll learn more about how to build your network and the style.

Understanding How You Network

Tools: Yourself and a pen and paper. Time: 20 minutes

Context: Networking is about building meaningful social connections. We’re talking here about social connections that have reciprocity: be it information, knowledge, experiences, ideas, skills development, or emotional support, to name a few.
At certain points in our careers and lives, we use our network to help us achieve our goals and stay on track, just as others lean on us to help them achieve their goals. It is part of the natural order of the world that we both reach out to others for support, as well as provide support to others. Having a network is therefore hugely important. You might have a close network of a dozen core people, a huge network of thousands, or something in the middle. The key is that we each have meaningful social connections we can call upon when needed to help us move forward in our goals.

Instructions: How do you go about building your network? Whatever your goal, before diving into action, it can be helpful to spend time reflecting on how you have approached networking in the past. Think about what you have enjoyed/not enjoyed, where you have been successful/unsuccessful, and therefore what lessons you can learn for maximising your networking efforts moving forward. The exercise below will help you draw out some of these lessons to take forward.

Think about your existing network or social connections and how you have built them up.

Jot down the different methods you have used, and are using, to build your network. You don’t have to be a pro networker to answer this! Whatever the extent of your networking, reflect on the many opportunities you have to build social connections. For example: work related channels such as previous colleagues/suppliers/customers, industry conferences, dinners, seminars, development courses or speaker events personal channels such as hobbies and interests, friends and family, holidays, community events, church or school

Out of all of these, circle the ones that have created the most meaningful social connections for you. What is it about these channels that allowed you to build the most meaningful social connections? Try and dig deep here about what really energised you and enabled you to build a meaningful connection. For example, it could be the format (face to face vs online), the size of group, the type of people, the topic or activity, the feel of it, the ability to talk in small groups or 1-2-1. It could also be the ability to prepare, the opportunity to focus on or to talk about yourself, the ability to get to know one another, the option to blend in, and so on.

If you want, you can repeat questions 2 and 3 and instead highlight those channels that created the least meaningful social connections and then explore why this was the case.

Reflect on your answers so far. What does this tell you about where your energy comes from in networking? What have you learnt about the conditions that must be true in a networking opportunity to enable you to create meaningful social connections? How can you use this to explore new opportunities to build a more meaningful network? For example, if you have discovered that you build great social connections in small groups, where you have the opportunity to listen and be listened to, to challenge and be challenged, then how do you go about finding or creating more opportunities that provide this?

Networking can be fun as well as meaningful. The key is to find a way of networking that optimises your strengths and brings you energy.

© AllBright 2020
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Sisterhood Works: How to Build a More Meaningful Network

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