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How to guarantee personal growth through strategic networking

Building a more valuable network means taking back control and approaching your actions and connections with strategic deliberation.

When you align yourself with thinkers and doers who have already achieved what you dream of achieving or who simply ride shotgun alongside you, you’ll be pushed to take the right actions and be inspired to move in the right direction towards your goals. This group of superpowers will build your success, boost your positive mojo and keep you in a place of constant growth.

Spend time with ‘cup half empty’ thinkers and you’ll feel low and de-energised. Spend time with individuals who dream big and see the cup not just as half full but as overflowing, and you’ll believe anything is possible.

Take ownership of your network

You have to take ownership of your own network. Move away from how many people you know to discovering who are the people you need to know. Building a more valuable network means taking back control and approaching your actions and connections with strategic deliberation. Of course we know this and yet something about how we are networking right now just isn’t working.

Most of our connections are superficial and transactional. Conversations have become brief and fleeting. You may be part of a network group or two, have a list of contacts and a stack of connections across various social media platforms but how many of your contacts do you really know? How many truly know you? How many of your contacts honestly care about you and your success? Are you doing things to help each other achieve your goals?

In ‘Building an Innovation Factory’ (HBR, May 2000), Andrew Hargadon and Robert I Sutton discuss how to broker and capture good ideas for true and long-lasting effect. One of the companies studied is IDEO, an international design and consulting firm founded in Palo Alto, California.

The most respected people at IDEO are:

  • Part pack rat

    They have great private collections of stuff

  • Part librarian

    They know who knows what

  • Part Good Samaritan

    They go out of their way to share what they know and to help others.

Approach your network in a similar way. You need a personal:

  1. Board of Advisers that bring out the best in you

    We invest in personal trainers for our fitness goals, financial advisers for our investment goals, even meditation teachers for our work–life goals.

    It is just as important to invest in a personal board of advisers as a sounding board and safety net to explore your ideas and plan your next career steps. Your boardroom provides encouragement, support and inspiration.

  2. Intelligence Bank that sustains you over the long term

    Think of building your network as creating a personal ‘intelligence bank’. Invest in it the same way a child makes regular coin deposits into their piggybank.

    The heavier the piggybank becomes, the more they have saved to purchase something important to them later. Invest in the right people with the right skills and it will pay dividends over the long term.

  3. Marketing Machine that champions you and your cause

    Without a marketing machine around you, your ability to create change and build engagement and influence is limited. To really drive your net worth and influence, you have to tap into what’s around you.

Your strategic network will keep your focus laser sharp. Moreover, it can help guide you towards the decisions you need to make to move forwards. As American sociologist Roald Burt put it, “Instead of better glasses, your network gives you better eyes.”


  1. Dr. Brandon Hamilton

    Great advice, Janine. I started developing many effective business relationships when I obtained my MBA. I eventually saw the benefit of such alliances when I pursued by doctor of business administration. I have used these boundary spanning techniques extensively to grow my “virtual” relationships. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Vijaya

    I couldn’t agree any less to this concept of networking. The larger the network, the more costly it gets to maintain the network. It is also quite right to say that larger networks are better glasses but are not as permanent as better eyes.

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