Knowing how to network is an important part of building a career. When we meet new people, we learn new things—and that leads to all kinds of opportunities.
Laura and Kate have talked in other shows about how to make networking easier. In this show, we cover how to do networking better, as good as the world’s top business leaders.
Richer Life Lab Podcast show quote
“Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships.” -Ivan Misner, founder of Business Networking International
How to Network Like the Most Successful People
As usual, we did our research and discovered some interesting (and surprising!) results from networking studies. We distilled the information into three tips you can follow for how to network like the most successful professionals—and take your career to new levels.
Networking Tip #1: Believe good contacts are everywhere
In show #13, How to Use Social Ties for a Better Careers, we talked about professional connections and the importance of the different types of social ties we have. In that show, we discussed some fascinating networking science research done by Ron Burt, a professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business who studies the networking habits of the most successful people in business.
Burt found that most successful people don’t have huge numbers of connections in their networks. Instead, they network with a few people across a lot of different kinds of groups in what he calls open networking.
Use Open Networking to Your Advantage
- Pros know that how to network successfully means moving in different circles, which inspires unusually good ideas and makes you more successful at work.
- Look to build some networks outside your normal sphere. Start by looking around you, to neighbors, extended family members, or parents of your kids’ friends.
- Take the time to build some quality connections to people you might not normally connect to—it could be worthwhile.
- Above all, foster your sense of curiosity. That will keep you looking for interesting people to get to know.
Networking Tip #2: Find people to support your personal goals
Rob Cross, a professor at University of Virginia, does networking studies on professionals. He discovered that the most successful executives have core networks composed of three kinds of people who help them on a personal rather than professional level:
- A friend or family member who provides emotional support when they need to vent or get a reality check.
- Someone who gives them a sense of purpose or worth by validating their work and encouraging them see the bigger picture.
- A partner who holds them accountable for sticking to their work/life balance goals.
If you don’t already have such connections, consider building some into your core network.
Networking Tip #3: You only need 18 close contacts
Ron Burt discovered that most of the top leaders he studied have a small core professional network of only between 12 and 18 connections. These are the people they rely on for help with decision making.
- Don’t try to have more than 18 close contacts. Just make sure your connections are diverse enough so that you’re always learning new things by having them as friends.
- Concentrate on keeping in close touch with these core connections regularly.
- For second- and third-tier connections, use social media to stay in touch without devoting too much valuable time.
Richer Life Lab Podcast practical
This week’s Richer Life Lab assignment is to make a mental or physical list of the people in your network you spend the most time with. Do they work in the same field? Are they basically like you? Get some insight on your connections and how to network better by opening up your sphere.
We want to hear about what’s working for you! Let us know if you try out one of the strategies we suggested in the show or have other recommendations that we can share with listeners in a future show.
Send us a Lab Report to firstname.lastname@example.org or record a voice message on this page. You can delete and re-record your message if you need to.
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