Updated: Jan 7, 2019
Highly successful executives appreciate that networking, whatever their job, role or title, is an essential skill to have and a valuable use of their time. Paraphrasing from the classic book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi:
“To achieve your goals, it matters less how smart you are or how much innate talent you’re born with. These things are important, but they mean little if you don’t understand one thing. You can’t get there alone. In fact, you can’t get very far at all.”
Networking is therefore an essential skill for effective leadership as the power of relationships can enable the busy executive to be more impactful and effective at motivating and influencing others.
In this insightful article, “Why Warmth Is the Underappreciated Trait Leaders Need”
The author, Loran Nordgren, highlights that “people are not accustomed to thinking about social interactions through a strategic lens” and “they worry about being manipulative or inauthentic or both”. The key statement for me is
"…get comfortable with building relationships strategically…think of it as an obligation rather than self-promotion."
I use a tool called the Relationship Action Plan (RAP) with some of my clients to help them identify the key relationships that they want to deepen in order to achieve a particular goal. Identifying a set of people, what you have in common, what you can do for them and what actions need to be taken in order to strengthen the relationship help to provide focus for busy executives.
I encourage my clients to start by thinking “how can I help this person?” rather than the more self serving “how can I gain from this relationship?”. By focusing on helping someone you naturally will build a more authentic and longer-term relationships that mutually benefits both parties. This mindset is key to being authentic and distinguishes genuine relationship-building from networking for networking sake.