Articles by Joyce Binder

How to Network effectively?

We have always been related to other people according to the social psychologist Geert Hofstede. In the past, our first interactions happened around family and close friends. We connected personally at gatherings and social events.

In 2016, relationships and interactions remain personal but are increasingly virtual due to the acceleration of globalization and technology. We rethought the way we network to develop and increase professional opportunities and innovation.

Stefan Lindegaard is a Copenhagen-based author, speaker and strategic advisor on corporate transformation, digitalization and innovation. He recommends to organizations that they build a networking culture that is designed, supported, and modelled by the company’s leaders. To this extent he suggests core elements to construct an organization’s network culture that is adapted to your business needs, which can be grouped into four steps: Defining the strategy, selecting the type of network, showing senior management engagement and implementing network initiatives that are aligned to the strategy and build on lessons from the past.

Leaders must create well defined strategic reasons why co-workers or partners would work together and how the networking culture would function on innovation strategies. One possible strategy is open innovation, which allows companies to make technological advances by fostering networking between internal and external resources. The next question to ask is, what types of networks you aim to design in order to support innovation within your company? Some examples are:

  • Peer-to-peer networks for people working with open innovation in different companies;
  • Value- and supply-chain networks;
  • Events and forums connecting problem solvers and innovators with your company.

Leaders should show explicit engagement to network culture construction, inspiring proactive behaviour on networking. Being available and sharing successful experiences during events and virtual platforms conveys the message on why and how innovation is supported by the networking culture. 

The implementation of the networking initiatives must be aligned to the pre-defined strategy and are likely to involve both virtual and face-to-face formats: both need investment in training. Some employees and partners may be new to networking, requiring time to learn and opportunities to practice these skills by using collaborative tools and by actively participating in networking events.

Building on lessons from the past is key to generate a successful network culture. Lindegaard identified these potential reasons for failure while working with several companies:

  • Lack of time to network and build relationships.
  • Lack of effective networking skills.
  • Lack of focus on common goals, experience and interest.
  • Lack of organizational structure and commitment to building and maintaining the network

I believe that these four suggested steps combined to Lindergaard’s recommendations adapted to each organizations’ needs will guarantee a more effective construction of network culture “with a purpose”. This allows your organization to increasingly support and develop professional opportunities and innovation.

Learn more about this topic: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boosting-innovation-through-diversity-technology-and-networking-tickets-26700275242  

 

References:

Hofstede, Geert. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. 1st edition, McGraw-Hill USA, 1997.

Lindegaard, Stefan. (October 2011). Making Open Innovation Work Available [http://www.15inno.com/2011/10/28/free-book-making-open-innovation-work/ - Accessed 08 Sep 2016]

Lindegaard, Stefan. (May 2012). Why Networking is Important for Innovation Available [http://www.15inno.com/2012/05/11/networkinginnovation/ - Accessed 07 Sep 2016]

 

 

 

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