Organizations that complete an annual talent review and succession planning process often struggle with the next step – how do we develop that talent? Too often development plans are created and ignored, or populated with “take this course” from the learning management system.
One of the easiest ways to develop talent, and increase your own social capital, is to strategically network. I can often tell who is newly “in transition” when I get LinkedIn connection requests from long-inactive people, and see a flurry of activity. It is not fun to be caught unemployed without a network.
In Harvey Mackay’s classic book, Dig Your Well Before Your Thirsty, he discusses the importance of having a network before you need one. It’s important to think of networking not simply as “what’s in it for me” (you can always spot the WIIFM people at networking events – they introduce themselves and start trying to sell you on-the-spot). A good networker looks to bring value as well. Are you a CEO needing mentorship? Tanis Cornell is an expert in this area. Kim Zoller specializes in coaching emerging leaders with her Leadership Edge program. Change Management? Allessandria Polizzi is my go-to. Instructional Design? Mark Evans. And they all pay-it-forward as well.
A rich network provides an education as well. Encourage your employees to develop relationships inside and outside of the organization. Networking inside the organization increases your visibility, knowledge, and helps gain advocacy and support. Outside the organization provides industry or professional field expertise and education, and may well come in handy during a job search.
Harvard Business Review, in How Leaders Create and Use Networks, identifies 3 types of networking:
- Personal Networking – Enhancing personal and professional development; providing referrals to useful information and contacts
- Operational Networking – Getting work done efficiently; maintaining the capacities and functions required of the group
- Strategic Networking – Figuring our future priorities and challenges; getting stakeholder support for them
I use this tool to help clients identify where they need to network A) within their own group (department, BU, etc.), B) outside of their group, C) outside of the organization (customers, industry, etc.)
Download PDF here: Tool-Relationship Matrix2
- Identify people with whom to build a relationship
- Score your relationship – Stage 1, 2, 3, etc.
- Strategically plan – invite them for coffee, include in a project, ask to mentor you, etc.