The Importance of Networking for Emerging Leaders

The Importance of Networking for Emerging Leaders

Most individuals acknowledge that networking is a critical activity for an aggressive manager to offer guidance, support, insight, and other resources to potential clients. On the basis of their own research of thirty top leaders, the researchers outline three different types of networking. The first is called the “business as deal” or “business as chat.” In this type of networking, people come together with a specific business objective in mind; they may discuss how to leverage their strengths and identify business partners. The other two types of networking are “business as learning” and “business as service.”


In the business as learning networks, managers are actively searching for opportunities to develop new skills and take on more responsibility. The other type of networks, which the researchers call the serve networks, involve developing long-term strategic alliances. These relationships tend to result in long-term professional relationships. Lastly, the third network the researchers call the strategic partnership networks involves partnerships that are not specific to any one company or individual, but rather are formed around common strategic issues. These networks often result in longer term professional relationships and build teams who can help a manager to advance his or her career.

The fact that many managers are familiar with both types of networking is the first step in developing a productive strategy. In order for managers to effectively utilize the benefits of these types of relationships, however, they must first understand the difference between the two. Business as deal networking, the researchers note, is generally characterized by a strong exchange of sales expertise and products between relatively close friends. In contrast, business as that tends to result from an acquaintanceship with a key manager or a sales person from the same company. The key to developing effective strategy, the researchers suggest, is for managers to understand which type of relationship is most appropriate for them.

The first step is for managers to meet people outside their company, on an informal basis. In some cases, doing so can yield immediate positive results, such as when a manager has a chance to meet people who might be potential direct reports, future clients, or influential customers. These meetings may take place in local coffees, grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, parks, or anywhere else.

Managers should also try to develop personal relationships beyond their network. While managers may not feel like they have personal connections outside their firm, many individuals share similar leadership values and may find it useful to meet people outside their firms to discuss their work. These people include co-workers, owners of small businesses, university students, and anyone else who share the same values as the manager. A manager who takes part in networking activities should try to meet as many people outside the company as possible. These activities can provide a good way to develop contacts, which will further enhance a manager’s ability to perform his or her leadership role.

For many managers, a final step in the process of emerging leader development involves personal networking outside of work. The best approach to take in this case is to connect with individuals outside the workplace through non-work activities. These could include speaking events, charitable events, and participation in nonprofit organizations. In many cases, these activities will help to provide the interpersonal network needed by emerging leaders. These networks may also provide individuals with a venue for sharing ideas, experience, and news about the business, thereby increasing a manager’s effectiveness.

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