My network makes my life easy!

Do we really appreciate diversity? If the answer is no, then why?

Often, we see people insecure in a team, a company and at home as well. We are comfortable with what we know, who we deal with and what we have been doing. When there is a need for a resource, we approach the age old, trusted source. When we need information, many times we approach our mentor or friend even if he or she does not have expertise in the matter. This is a good thing but not necessarily an approach that may give you the best output. I may or may not have a diverse team, but the real question is how open I am towards a diverse set of people. Is color, race, gender, hierarchy, religion etc. something that keeps me from being as open as I am towards what I am more used to or familiar with?

What is the big opportunity?

More contacts mean more opportunity – I hear this all the time. While connecting with people gives the much-needed opportunity to get work done or know about something, the benefit mostly depends on how robust the relationship is or how compelling your request is!

Thus, it brings us to the realization that several connections, the strength of the relationship and our narrative are driving forces to a powerful network. If we start using this network well by adding value to the connections, regularly showing the opportunity, and seeking value, we tend to become a facilitator within the network and can channel resources optimally to gain and provide gain.

Is there a method to understand our networking quotient?  

I may find it difficult to approach a certain gender or seniors. This may be different for another person. So, the first step is to understand ourselves – Our insecurities and inhibitions.

We should ideally map our network on a 3-point scale against 5 aspects:

  1. Is my network diverse? If not, what is missing? Is it gender diversity, hierarchical diversity, functional diversity, Racial diversity etc.?
  2. Are my connections strong? Relationship depth, age of connection etc.
  3. Do my connections have strong connective potential?
  4. Is my network relevant?
  5. Am I using the network for myself and my team?

After the mapping is done, one will be able to ascertain what is the strength and weakness of the current network. To ensure that the self-analysis is validated, you could ask a few diverse sets of people to score you on the above 5 aspects too.

How can we strategically build and improve our network?

Looking at our network analysis, we would realize what needs to be worked upon. We need to plan the next steps to work on the aspects that clearly showed low on the 3-point scale. An action plan and a conscious effort towards improving the low scoring aspect and a strong narrative will enable one to spruce it up further. With the much-needed sauce, the network turns into a powerful engine growing with more connections and truly engaging. The facilitator and the connections add value to each other.

One needs to look at this exercise even from a team point of view. A team consists of a set of people who have networks, and the collective network of the team should ideally address each challenge or need that arises. This would need the leader to be aware of the network strength and developmental opportunity of each member and of the cumulative network. The leader could facilitate in such a way that the strength of a member enables another member who scores low on that aspect. The composition of mini teams and project teams will reduce anxiety, speed up results and lead to higher success.

About the Author

Yugandhar Penubolu is the author of a book ‘The Transformational Lens’ which covers people and performance management stemming from his experience spanning over 20 years with large corporates and leadership teams. He is the cofounder of and One of the many modules of is the Strategic Networking tool that aids employees to understand their network and strategically build an action plan to improve their networking quotient or influence for themselves and for their teams.

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