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The power of the web

Ro Crosbie is president of Tero International, a premier interpersonal skills and corporate training company.

The power of the web is not a discussion about the internet. I’m talking about networking. I’m talking about the 4.74 degrees of separation between you and everyone else on the planet (it used to be 6 degrees of separation). 

Businessman in suit reaching out handYou already know that most people find new jobs and opportunities because of connections through a network. Similarly, many leaders leverage networks to find talent for their teams.

While we all realize the importance of a strong web of network connections, many of us mistakenly think that the network connections closest to us are the most important. Interestingly, most of time, key connections are made through distant links – people who are not directly connected to you. 

In other words, the people who are most closely linked to you would probably help you with your goals. Our challenge as leaders is to make the more distant connections. That is, connections with people who have access to different networks.

Therefore, the goal of networking is not simply to make more connections to you. The goal is to make a web of connections, many among other people with no obvious link to you. 

The “work” in networking

At the center of the word "networking" is the word “work.” It is not enough to merely want a healthy, helpful network. It involves work.

Consider the example of a gardener. A good gardener carefully tills and seeds the garden. During the growing season, they weed and water it. In the fall they enjoy a bountiful harvest. What happens if the gardener simply throws some seed packets on the ground and doesn’t care for the garden? They have a bountiful crop of weeds. You can try this over and over again, and you’ll always get the same results. Do the work, and you’ll have a wonderful garden. Just toss some seeds on the ground, and you won’t.

So it is with networking. You cannot enjoy the achievement of your goals without doing the work. Like the skilled gardener, the skilled networker knows that the results are not immediate. Yet so many of us think we can harvest a healthy bounty from a network that has not been cultivated or cared for. When we are unsuccessful with our approach, we fix blame and complain rather than taking the actions called for.

Leaders who develop the skills of effective networking and do the work required enjoy many benefits. Like the gardener, the benefits are greatly multiplied when the work is done well. The gardener plants only one seed, but each successful seed produces a plant containing hundreds of seeds.

Networking Tips

If we can focus more on the other person and less on ourselves, we can cultivate the relationships that will ultimately form the critical links that make up our network. Our leadership success depends on it. View this short video clip for tips on how to build your network.

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