The role of interaction and networks has become more prominent and more important than ever before. It’s well known, that the biggest deals are made through networks, also most jobs and boards are filled in the same way.
“In the future, networks and social interaction will play an increasingly important role. Network power is growing. ”This is stated in The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra’s Megatrends2020 report. Blah blah blah … many of us are thinking now. Yes, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will search for the best leads, better bids, will prepare the contracts and make the best deals.
This may be true in the future. The “bad” news, however, is that AI has been in development for over fifty years, but has so far been unable to replace human networks and it’s power. On the contrary, the role of social capital and networks has become even more prominent.
According to research by Gartner, a multinational information technology research and consulting firm, 74% of today’s executives feel they are dealing with a variety of stakeholders (including networks) more than ever.
This means that they are expected to have the skills to create and influence networks. The manager is responsible for the effective utilisation of the social capital within and between the organisations. If today’s leader is unable to harness the skills, ideas, and relationships of people and their networks, the development of the entire organisation is at risk. Leaders from around the world participated in Gartner’s research. However, a minority of them found that they were good at networking.
70 PERCENT OF SENIOR MANAGEMENT REPRESENTATIVES ALSO ADMIT THAT THEY LACK EXPERIENCE IN NETWORKING
Are things better here in Finland?
5,000 Finns took part in the Sitra’s New Skills and Routes for Work survey.Creativity, interaction and networking are predicted to be emphasised in the future labor market. However, in Sitra’s research, their expertise was found at the bottom of the list.
ONLY 6% OF THE RESPONDENTS FOUND NETWORKING SKILLS TO BE THEIR STRENGHT
During last couple of years, I have interviewed many of the business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, education and training professionals. There is great interest in developing networking skills and the need to increase social capital. At the same time, the interviewees admit that they have not received help or instruction on the subject during their education and career. Thus, networking skills have certainly not been sufficiently utilised and used in Finland to gain a competitive advantage.
Here are my five tips to keep in mind on the path to networking and increasing social capital:
1) Nobody trusts an expert or a leader who has no networks and no networking skills.
It’s a harsh truth. Start building your organisation’s and personal credibility by developing advanced networking skills. Social capital is the real and measurable currency of today and the future.
2) The manager has at least one non-delegated function. It’s about networking and maintaining relationships.
You do not need separate networking events or organised breaks for networking. Find the right forms of networking for you, repetition is the key. Keep up the good “networking hygiene” daily.
3) The amount and quality of new contacts are not enemies. Increase the volume and improve the quality of the relationship.
However, always remember to make sure your network is aware of your expertise and how you can benefit others.
4) Build real networks around you instead of bubbles.
Get information and contacts across disciplines, genders and age groups. Make sure your networks stay diverse. Your future employer may be 18 years old today 🙂
5) You cannot control networks, if you think you can, you are delusional.
Instead, you can control your attitudes towards people you meet and events you plan to participate. Staying curious and active will ensure that you do not miss opportunities to meet people who can open new doors in your future life.
In a world where more than half of economic activity is international,there is indeed a need to develop networking skills and thereby increase one’s social capital.
Aide Tonts is a networking expert and “well marinated” senior executive in the international business world. She works as a management consultant, trainer and key note speaker. Aide has published a book, “NETWORKING TO IMPROVE SUCCESS – How to Grow Social Capital and Turn it into Economic Benefit.”
Article was originally published in Presser OY
PHOTO: Ain Tõnts