You took meetings on Zoom. You happy-houred on Zoom. You talked to your grandma on Zoom. Now as we re-enter the world, without video conferencing software, we can be smarter. The same global crisis that slung inconvenience—even tragedy—our way has given us a once-in-a-pandemic opportunity: a chance to rethink our assumption and create lasting change.
First on the chopping block of the status quo: networking. Stop networking and start building your network. What’s the difference? Building your network requires planning ahead. It’s intentional and goal driven. It’s not social climbing. It’s about keeping your relationships healthy and creating value for those in your life.
So as you plan your post-pandemic network, consider these three Cs: conceive, create and care.
Start by imagining the network you want. Think quality over quantity since too large of a network will spread you thin. Networking research shows that those who rank the highest in well-being and performance typically have 12 to 18 contacts in their network. The ideal network regularly contributes the following:
- Access to information including expertise, market awareness and best practices.
- Power in the form of resources, support and clarifying difficult questions.
- Developmental feedback that holds you accountable and challenges you to improve.
- Personal support that uplifts your self-esteem.
- Sense of purpose by validating your work.
- Promotion of work/life balance by showing you the bigger picture.
Ask yourself: how connected are my relationships to other networks and who is in my inner circle? Research indicates that both men and women benefit when they are at the center of a well-connected network. But to keep on par with men, women need even more: insider knowledge, the kind that can only come from close female ties.
Next, keep your network diverse to maintain a fresh perspective. Seek contacts outside of the mortgage industry and your region. A good network reaches across hierarchical bounds and areas of expertise.
We know diversity is key, but with one exception: Everyone in your network, yourself included, should be energizers. Energizers are not necessarily extroverts, but they energize us with positivity and an ability to spot and share opportunities.