Web diagram can help networking efforts succeed


How’s your web? No, I don't mean your World Wide Web site or the spiders in the corner. I'm referring to your network web. A network web is an essential survival tool. It takes the basic concept of networking to a new level by getting you organized around key objectives and contacts you can leverage.
Here’s how it works:
Take out a piece of paper and draw a small circle in the middle to represent yourself. This will be the center of the web. Next, draw at least 5 radiating lines out from the center circle to the edges of the paper. These lines represent the network strands that you want to develop. Each strand represents a different area of your career or interests for which you want contacts. For instance, it would be wise to have a strand of contacts in your field. These people provide you with technical information on issues that you work with on the job. When you need information or a new perspective, they can tell you how they do something or what they know.
You can label the strands any way you like. For instance, you may want several strands representing different components of your job, or people in companies you would like to work for in the future, Internet buddies, or suppliers and customers. The key is to think about what kinds of contacts are the most useful to you right now and in the near future.
Another strand might be colleagues in your own company. The internal network is another important group of contacts you need to cultivate. They can provide you with valuable information about changes in the company, and provide feedback that is valuable both personally and professionally. Hopefully, you have at least one in each department with whom you work.
Perhaps other strands could be related to outside social activities at your church, clubs or volunteer activities. This strand might be labeled outside interests. Often we overlook this group of people as potential networking contacts who could help us with our career (or personal) goals. Yet, I often hear of people who land a new job through an acquaintance outside of work.
Now, for each strand, think about key people who stand out as major contacts in that area. If they could fit into several of your strands, that makes them even more valuable. Start listing the names of contacts along each strand. If they are a major contact for you, with valuable potential for information and support, they should be circled. Ideally, you will have a few of these key contacts on each strand. They are hubs of influence. From these people more web threads radiate outward, with more names leading to other contacts.
The people in your network who are hubs are the people you need to be proactively contacting on a regular basis. These contacts are too valuable to let them drift away. Rather than just calling them when you need something, set up regular lunches, phone calls or meetings. These are the people who have their fingers in many projects, know a lot of people, wield some influence, and hear about things first. The work world is changing so fast, you need to proactively position yourself into the main flow of changing information. Hub contacts can keep you in touch with a wide variety of people and companies. They will maximize your networking time, since they are live databases of people, information and opportunities.
And let’s take a look at how much value you provide to the people on your web. Is it all one-way? Are you always asking for help but seldom finding time to give back? Do you wait for them to ask for help or do you seek ways to extend yourself. Those who reach out and assist others (without expecting to get a payback) usually have the richest networks of people who are willing to help them when they need it.
Although we have more access to information than ever before through web of electronic sources, we must not forget the web of people who can really help you reach your goals. Because in the final analysis, it's relationships that build careers.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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