Follow These 3 Steps To Build A Stronger Professional Network

by Growth Through Learning, Quick Reads

Follow These 3 Steps To Build A Stronger Professional Network

The best way to uncover new opportunities, increase your influence, and advance your career is to develop a strong professional network. As you go about building your network, however, you need to be aware of the potential blind-spots that can keep you from success.

In order to help you overcome these blind spots, we’ve put together the following 3-step process for developing a stronger professional network.

Step 1: Evaluate The Depth Of Your Existing Network

Ask yourself, “Are my contacts mostly within one or two degrees of separation from each other?” If the answer is yes, you may be in danger of becoming what I refer to as “root-bound”.

In botany, a root-bound plant is one that has outgrown its current pot or planter. Its roots can’t reach beyond its current constraints and are forced to grow into themselves until the plant becomes stunted.

Your network, just like the roots of a plant, must expand beyond your current walls in order to thrive and produce additional growth. If you don’t increase the depth of your network, you’re missing out on the fruit that a deeper network could produce.

Are most of the connections in your network from your high school, university/college, and previous/current workplaces? If so, there’s a good chance your network lacks the depth required to take your career to the next level.

Step 2: Evaluate The Variety In Your Existing Network

We all have a tendency to gravitate towards those who are similar to us. Generally, there’s nothing wrong with this – “birds of a feather flock together” as the saying goes.

However, a problem arises when a lack of variety in your connections causes your network to become an echo-chamber driven by a ‘groupthink’ mentality. Groupthink develops when members of a community reinforce their own mindsets and beliefs as correct or “the best” simply because they are commonly held among the members of the group.

In the case of your network, a lack of variety will cause you to end up thinking, acting, and being perceived the same as everyone else, which is never good for your career.

While there is something comforting and reassuring about staying within a secure circle of familiar friends and colleagues, ask yourself the following question: is there enough variety in your network for you to stand out from the rest of the crowd?

Step 3: Pursue Increased Depth And Variety In Your Network

Growth occurs most powerfully when we step to the edge of our comfort zone.

You can do this by tapping into the outer limits of your connections and network.

Moving to new and unexplored areas forces us to become more alert and increases both our creativity and our response-time out of necessity. We are introduced to new people, ideas, and perspectives that cause us to grow and expand our horizons.

This is where we stretch and are truly able to realize our potential.

Remember, we can all benefit from increasing our connections to those with different and even opposing viewpoints to our own. It doesn’t mean that our viewpoints need to change necessarily, it just means we need to be aware of the other viewpoints that exist.

If anything discussed here causes you to feel fear or discomfort, that’s okay. You can feel the fear or discomfort, just make sure you choose to take action anyway.

“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?” — W. Clement Stone

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