I have the dreaded ‘need for networking’ conversation with all of my clients whether I am engaged as their strategic leadership coach or as their career coach. Here are some of the push back comments and complaints I regularly receive:

There are numerous articles on how to network, when to network, how to follow-up after a networking event, the benefits of networking, networking etiquette, etc.  Rob Cross, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, was recently interviewed for a Harvard Business Review podcast on Getting Networking Right.

His research results indicate that high performers have better (not necessarily larger) networks internally and externally and this contributes greatly to leadership career success:

“The magic tends to be built in ties that are bridging different areas of an organization. It’s not the quantity of the ties. It’s more ties that are crossing functional lines, crossing hierarchical levels, crossing sometimes physical distance, or expertise capability areas, that seem to distinguish what the high performers are doing over time.

The importance of finding ways, not just to go build a network, but first to ‘prune’ it… Not that you’re going to go dump your best friend out of your network or somebody that is important to you…  

[Finding] ways of shifting to create space to build and maintain a vibrant network is turning out to be a really big deal, a consistently stronger and stronger predictor of effective leaders over time in ways that it just wasn’t 10 or so years ago.”

Upgrade Your Networking Conversations

I approach networking from another vantage point.  I believe we need to understand the nature and purpose of the networking conversation. Networking, solely for the purpose of socializing, is a happy past-time if that is your interest. 

However, when you need a career do over – upgrade your networking conversations by using a 4-stage taxonomy model to help you figure out your purpose and your complementary strategy.

In the early stages of meeting a potential networking contact, the objective is to develop the relationship. So, the conversation covers how we are alike, people we know in common, similar interests, etc.  Further conversations with the same networking contact focuses on discovering mutual career-enhancing possibilities, and at the next stage, identifying opportunities and making your ‘case’ to be considered as a candidate.  The last stage of networking conversations should prepare the contact to take action on your behalf, to make a warm referral or provide a strong endorsement.

I have, of course, simplified the conversation objective for each stage as an illustration.  In ‘real life’, you would not move quickly through the stages and you would have many more interactions, conversations and opportunities to build trust.

An important part of your career do over strategy should be focused on engaging your network to help you change the upward trajectory of your career.  Properly created and ‘pruned’, your network will be a great asset in helping you attain your career transformation goals.

A question for you to consider:

  • Do you need a career do over?  If you need help in building, ‘pruning’ or strategizing how best to serve your network and ways to articulate how your network can best serve you,  contact me at: cglasco@charter.net.


© All rights reserved.

Christine M. Glasco, Career Coach – consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management, career transition and strategic leadership development solutions.  To request a complimentary copy of Five Tips to Transform Your Executive Career  and to receive Who Needs a One Page Career Plan? You Do!   Website: www.christineglasco.com   Email:  info@christineglasco.com  Phone:  1.940.367.0837

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One Response to When You Need a Career Do Over – Upgrade Your Networking Conversations

  1. laureen says:

    What an informative blog. Your networking conversations chart is awesome. What a great way to looking at networking. I always enjoy reading your blogs.

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