Written by Temilola Onanuga
An Excerpt from The Connect Effect
Building Strong Personal, Professional, and Virtual Networks
by Michael Dulworth Berrett-Koehler
Humans are social animals. Therefore, in both personal and business life, networking is an important force. For example, knowledge workers often face complex problems whose solutions require gathering information from people with a variety of expertise, whom they may not know personally. Author Michael Dulworth is the first to admit that much of networking is simply common sense, but doing it well, he says, requires planning.
In his straightforward book, he provides a quick explanation of how to improve your networking skill, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, and of how to use networks in your work life.
Abstract: Finding Those Special People
Networking helps you expand the personal connections that contribute to your knowledge and social community. Doing it well can help you reach your personal and professional goals. People used to rely on face-to-face interactions to create their networks, but Websites such as MySpace and Flickr are enabling them to use virtual connections as well.
Networking is especially important for knowledge workers, who use it to find resources, information, approvals and other elements they need to complete their projects.
Networks may consist of professional colleagues or those who share interests. Since the people in your network stay on top of developing cultural and business trends, their knowledge is often more up-to-date than that in books or periodicals.
All members of a network benefit when the participants freely exchange information and contacts. Reciprocity is the key to successful networking. The only special skill or attribute you need to become a good networker is the willingness to share information with others.
Calculate Your Networking Quotient
These three elements are essential to success:
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) – Your capacity to learn and understand. Heredity and Environment determine your IQ.
Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) – Your ability to perceive and handle
emotions within yourself and amongst groups. You have somewhat more control over your EQ than your IQ; you can build EQ through enhanced self-awareness.
Networking Quotient (NQ) – Your ability to participate in large, diverse, high-quality networks of friends and colleagues whom you know well.
Your networking skill is almost entirely up to you. People with high NQs are not necessarily extroverts.
Many are introverts who have consciously improved their networking abilities.
A high-quality network includes people who are knowledgeable, experienced and well connected.
They have the clout to make things happen. Although having a large network
is a good thing, knowing the right people is ultimately more important than knowing many people.
Appreciate Your Connections
Human beings are naturally social – you probably network every day without even
realizing it. However, to use and develop your networks really well, you must become systematic and conscientious – even about maintaining your basic family and community networks. “Networking begins at home.” For example, the list of people to whom you send Christmas or other holiday cards is part of your immediate network.
Over time, these relationships may grow, deteriorate or revive, but even an annual connection can keep the network alive.
Professional networks often begin with the contacts you make in college or graduate
schools, such as professors and fellow students. Graduating from a prestigious institution can create a “halo effect”: If you know important people, you will seem more important yourself, which will accelerate your ability to connect with others.
Expand your professional network by joining advisory boards or writing articles with established, well-respected co-authors. These kinds of accomplishments enhance your credibility.