We have worked with hundreds of executives, sharing our ground-breaking approach to networking that helps them build the professional and business network they need to succeed. Here is what we tell them.
1. Networking is not about meeting new people or adding connections on LinkedIn. Stop worrying about that.
2. What’s important is investing time with a few people – most likely people who you already know. Think of these people as members of your Personal Boardroom.
3. Think carefully about what role each of those people can play for you. For example, who is your Navigator? Who is your Inspirer? These are the 12 roles you need in your Personal Boardroom.
Below is a brief description of each role.
Customer voice – someone who helps you understand markets, customers and business opportunities
Expert – someone who gives advice based on their sector or challenge-specific expertise
Inspirer – someone who inspires new ideas and brings fresh thinking
Navigator – someone who can tell you who you need to know and who does what
Unlocker – someone who provides access to resources (e.g. money, data, people’s time)
Sponsor – someone who speaks out to endorse you and your ideas to senior or important people
Influencer – someone who works behind the scenes to win support and helps you get things done
Connector – someone who makes introductions and connects you with people who can help you
Improver – someone who gives candid, constructive feedback on your performance and development
Challenger – someone who challenges your decisions and thinking and helps you see your errors and blind spots
Nerve-giver – someone who strengthens your resolve at difficult times and gives you a sense of purpose
Anchor – someone who keeps you grounded and holds you to account for the balance between your work and the rest of your life
4. Have conversations with purpose. Use the 12 Personal Boardroom roles as a guide. Once you’ve identified the role you want someone to play, it’s much easier to approach them, and to ask them for help.
5. Think about which of the 12 roles play to your strengths. Use this role as a way to offer help to other people. In networking, having something to offer really helps.