Monday, 7 May 2012

for common people: key aspects: "network capital" & "investment horizon" & strategic positioning.. ... The science of networking: what sort of contacts are best? | Guardian careers

The science of networking: what sort of contacts are best? | Guardian careers |

Must read article, and indeed great book (no doubt, not read it yet) by uber networker & founder of Linkedin Reid Hoffman..

seems to me not everyone is Reid (i.e. have the luck of having great network/education from Stanford & lucky to be in the hot bay area..) and lucky enough to join the successful millionaire club after working 3 jobs in 6years (3rd one is the company he founded), see his profile:

Therefore, his point of view and most people he meets are much higher quality (although I know he 'give back' & meet a lot of start up founders and even at his home during weekends etc.) but reality is that most people do not stay being successful at that level long..

based on my personal experiences and observations, most startup CEOs are not successful (who has stats?) and even for those top CEO of major firms from banking, to pharma to media mostly last for limited amount of times (3-6years) and therefore, Reid's rules need to be 'adapted' for comparative 'lesser achievers' (I'm totally under-achieving at present).. namely:

1.) strategic positioning: you need to know where you come from and where you would like to go (in corporate world or in startup/Tech) only then you would be able to position yourself in networking, conferences, or become opinion/thought leader (if you are good at that/wish to become).

2.) network capital: in the guardian article above, it mentioned about strengthening alliances by helping them.. I would like to argue that 'networking capital' should be added to the equation, namely, if you are Reid Hoffman, making a call/email/introduction would be very much different than if it is from Bernie Madoff or even Lord Brown of ex BP now!?  but whilst an introduction or assistance by Lord Brown during his tenure as CEO of BP would have been very different (say in 2005, before his departure in 2007).

Therefore, I would like to argue that key to bear in mind is that your offer of assistance and thus likely return/investment of goodwill (for the future if the-aided would indeed return any favour, as this is not certain) would really depends on your "networking capital" which would probably be proportional to your business success so far, and/or the quality of your assistance.. of course, rule of thumb is that the more successful and respected you are, the more you can help others (should you wish to)

My suggestion therefore would be for those of you that might recognise that your own vulnerability, namely you WILL NOT stay in your position of power 'forever' (unless you own the private company with majority shareholding).. you should get out to network & when you can  help others (I know it is not worth your time now and you are too busy or too important).... one thing is for certain, you 'reap what you sow'... ;-)


Key excerpts below (would recommend you click through above to read the full article:

"Luckily, building your network doesn't have to be like that. Old-school networkers are transactional. They pursue relationships thinking solely about what other people can do for them. Relationship builders, on the other hand, try to help others first. They don't keep score. And they prioritise high-quality relationships over a large number of connections.

Building a genuine relationship with another person depends on at least two abilities. The first is seeing the world from another person's perspective. No one knows that better than the skilled entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs succeed when they make stuff people will pay money for - and that means understanding what's going on in the heads of customers. Likewise, in relationships it's only when you put yourself in the other person's shoes that you begin to develop an honest connection.

The second ability is being able to think about how you can collaborate with and help the other person rather than thinking about what you can get. We're not suggesting that you be so saintly that a self-interested thought never crosses your mind. What we're saying is that your first move should always be to help. A study on negotiation found that a key difference between skilled and average negotiators was the time spent searching for shared interests and asking questions of the other person.

In contrast, the social networks of the people behind successful productions had a healthy balance: there were some strong ties, some weak ties. There was some established trust, but also enough new blood in the system to generate new ideas. Think of your network of relationships in the same way: the best professional network is both narrow/deep (allies with whom you collaborate regularly) and wide/ shallow (weak-tie acquaintances who offer fresh information and ideas)."

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