We all have those ‘head slap’ moments after a meeting when we think “Agghhhhhh – THAT’S what I SHOULD have said!
The other week I was facilitating a workshop on personal brand for senior leaders who worked for a financial institution. I was talking about the importance of networking to promote your brand and the IT manager said: “I can see how networking would be of value to someone with direct client contact, but my clients are in-house, and I’m not looking at changing my job, so I don’t see the benefit of networking externally.”
“Hmmmm – fair point!” I thought.
I reiterated the benefits of networking such as increasing your visibility, building your credibility and being seen as a thought leader .But it wasn’t until I got home that I realised I forgot to mention the greatest hidden benefit of networking and that is: Brain pool – the benefit of shared knowledge.
We all know that information is escalating at an unprecedented rate – no one individual can keep up with it. But, your network can. Your network can allow you access to experts, experiences and diverse knowledge. It can help you make better decisions faster and can save you time, energy and resources.
Here are five groups you need to add to your brain pool:
1. Peers in other organisations
Every year I take two days out of my schedule to attend the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) conference in Sydney. It’s a chance for me to hear international speakers, catch up with the latest research, but most importantly to see and hear what my peers are doing around Australia.
2. People who view things differently
There is strength in diversity. Most people think about ‘networking up’ but we should also network down and across. Don’t confine your network to your backyard. The beauty of LinkedIn is that it is easy to develop an international network to expand your view.
3. Colleagues who are not afraid to give you a verbal slap now and then
It’s very comfortable being good at your job. Unfortunately comfort builds complacency and complacency can make us lazy. We all need to have people externally to our organisation who can shake us up a little.
There are many different levels of customers: Those who use your services, those who refer you and those who don’t yet see what benefit you offer. Regardless of your position in an organisation you will be able to do your job better if you understand the needs and wants of the end user.
I am fortunate in that I work with a variety of universities both locally and nationally. I love chatting with people at the coalface of research. I find they always have a different approach and often challenge my thinking. it is also an opportunity to incorporate some of their learnings in my work and to blend it with my experience.
So, are you making the most of your network? Time to start paddling and make a splash into the brain pool.