If you’re an older worker fighting ageism, you know the importance of a strong network…
The leverage you get from networking can be extraordinary – improving business and delivering you the job you want. Building a network of good contacts and cooperating with people will work wonders for your career. The Benefits…
Referrals, critical and timely advice, inside information, and social support. Better connections increase your job opportunities and your salary.
The Easiest Way To Build Connections That Matter
Imagine an industry where there are perhaps 100 competitors. Let’s say that five or six managers or professionals from different companies, who all do similar roles, start cooperating and helping one another with their careers. What sort of things could they share and help one another with? What could they do together to get themselves more leverage, to start getting a bigger piece of the pie?
Client networking (they may be in the same industry, but they are likely to be targeting different segments, or have slightly different products, and can offer you contacts).
Professional development, for example, the sharing of ideas from conferences or circulating good research reports.
Sharing ideas on marketing and what works for them.
Sharing knowledge of software or other products or systems that can make your job easier or more productive.
Would this really make your career sing? Absolutely, and it’s not hard to do. There is a clunky word that describes this collaboration with your competitors – coopetition.
So why don’t people work with their competitors? With an audience of sixty Financial Planners, I was almost howled off the stage when I suggested the idea of networking with competitors. People became really upset and called out things like, ‘Don’t you realise how cutthroat our industry is?’ and ‘How can you share things with the people who are trying to eat your lunch?’
It’s a hard concept to understand initially, but most people can quickly see its power and potential – including most of the financial planners.
I worked in recruitment where there were literally thousands of competitors. I joined a network with 380 members globally, and regularly worked with about 20 of them – with the ones that I came to know and trust. The benefits were extraordinary when I needed to help clients around the globe or around Australia.
In most cases, such contacts are specialised in an area and focus on particular niches that don’t directly compete with you. Some may be in direct competition, but even then you’re still individuals. You still have your own specific goals and targets to meet. And there are a lot of other competitors out there who don’t have the power of your little ‘networking group’, which is typically less than 5% of your industry.
When it comes to careers, no-one is the same, which means we have very few direct competitors. We are all Brands of One and the chance of you directly competing at the same time with one of your five friendly industry colleagues is pretty remote. The benefits of collegiate networking far outweigh the small risk that one day you’ll compete directly with them for a job.
So, working with your industry colleagues is powerful – it’s the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of powerful career networking.