Building a Network…no, the other kind…

For a blog aimed at CTOs, I feel I should clarify what kind of network I covered in my new book, Get Off the Bench: Unleashing the Power of Strategic Networking Through Relationships. I wrote the book to inspire and help those for whom networking feels out of reach, unnatural, or forced. I’m convinced that networking can be a natural thing for all of us as we go about our personal and professional lives. You may ask yourself, “Why should I care about networks and networking? It strikes me as a lot of effort. What’s in it for me? Convince me.”

There are few effective executives who don’t network. This may be an unwritten rule: it may remain unspoken, and it may not show up on your job description or your performance review. Do not be deceived by this. Networking is expected and necessary for getting things done. A vital part of your job is knowing people who can get things done and help you achieve your (or your organization’s) goals.

Let’s put this in technical terms, using the analogy of the computer network. Your computer is usually connected to a network. When you ping the network with a request, generally a request for information, you begin a bilateral process. The network moves information back and forth, but that is not all. The network controls information. If you do not have the correct permissions (i.e. access), you can’t get information from that particular part of the network.

Next, think of a stand-alone computer, not tied to a network. It can only draw from its internal resources. Such a computer may be very powerful and have stunning applications, yet it is vastly inferior to a networked computer from the standpoint of information and resource access.

Human beings are the same way. Those not “plugged in” can only draw from their own resources. Conversely those in a network can draw on an almost infinite number of resources and have access to data that would help them reach their goals.

However, one word of caution – in any networked environment there is always the danger of a virus. It is critical that each person you let into your network be vetted. Ensure those in your network reflect your values, ethics, and objectives.

Ultimately the network provides power, opportunities, information and access. I’ll be back in future posts to discuss building and maintaining your network.

Sid Fuchs is President & CEO of MacAulay-Brown, Inc. and author of, “Get off the Bench: Unleashing the Power of Strategic networking Through Relationships.”

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