Congratulations! If you’ve made it through that title to this point I promise you’ll be rewarded with some interesting and valuable content.
Networking is probably one of the most overused terms that we hear in the workplace. Yet building a diverse network is critical to success in both your professional and personal life. Let’s take a closer look and see just how this idea can be useful to you.
Let’s begin by explaining what we mean by a “diverse” network. A diverse network is one that contains different groups of people with different interests and experiences. We all have colleagues with whom we interact but a diverse network is built outside the workplace. Take my network as an example. Over the years I’ve been involved in a number of things including:
- Search and Rescue
- Ski Patrol
- Bicycling Clubs
- Professional Organizations
- Ocean Kayak Fishing
- Competitive Shooting
And lots of volunteering in the community.
I know people from all these experiences and they are all part of my network. I’ve received numerous opportunities both professional and otherwise from those in my network. The more diverse your network is the more opportunities you’ll have. I’ve also been able to help others because of the relationships I’ve developed within my network.
I once helped a new aerospace engineering graduate get her first job through my ski patrol contacts. It turns out that several patrollers worked as engineers in the aerospace industry. I was able to pass her resume along which resulted in an interview and eventually a job offer.
I met this engineering graduate while visiting a restaurant with a coworker. She was working as a waitperson and my coworker was one of her regular customers. He told me she was about to graduate and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested. Because of the diversity of my network, I was able to help her get her first engineering job.
Network diversity can be valuable in more direct ways as well. I have a friend who played guitar professionally when he was younger. He told me that when he was hanging out with other guitar players he got fewer job opportunities. When he began hanging out with bass players and drummers his job opportunities increased significantly. Bass players and drummers are more likely, he found, to pass on guitar playing opportunities they hear about than are guitar players. My friend had diversified his network.
The second part of that long title refers to weak-tie relationships. Weak-tie relationships describe acquaintances we know through our network activities but who are not necessarily close friends. Research shows that most opportunities come from weak-tie relationships rather than from close friends. Charles Duhigg does a great job describing this in his book “The Power of Habit” along with citing the supporting research.
The more diverse your network is, the more weak-tie relationships you will have. The more weak-tie relationships you have, the more opportunities will likely come your way.
Some things to consider:
How diverse is your network?
What can you do to make it more diverse and powerful?
©2016 Joseph T Drammissi