The importance of building networks

Written by
Dave Roberts

Published
01 Mar 2017

01 Mar 2017 • by Dave Roberts

Organisational complexity is more apparent than ever, due to matrixed, flatter structures and the rapid globalisation of organisations. Knowledge also seems to leave and enter a business at a faster rate, which leads to less explicit places to gather information and more tactic knowledge across the business. These are all reasons why we need a network to help us navigate and extract knowledge from a business with a core objective in mind deliver value to the business.


 

Personal experiences

I can only reference my own experiences as a HRD but when I join a company I have an overriding objective to build a strong network, understand the business, mobilise the team and then look to deliver value. This network stays with you throughout your tenure and if strong enough, throughout your career. There’s many advantages to having a network, however, I will focus on internal networks and those that you cross paths with on a day to day basis. They are the quickest route to understanding the question “How are things done round here?” And practically they can assist you with anything from the best places to take the team for lunch to how influence the executive team.

You create a group of individuals that either share your common purpose or conversely don’t share it so that you can influence them along the way. This is always with the view that your network will assist you getting to where you want to be and ensuring you deliver value.

Putting it into context

Context and reasoning is great but how do you do this? Everyone has their own approach but I simply map out my stakeholders using a simple grid of power and influence then aim to at least meet those across the grid. The depth of relationship in your network depends on your interaction or need for them moving forward so this will form the regularity and bond you need to form.

A recent example of where I have done this is within my first year at American Express. It has 60,000 employees across over 23 markets and with multiple levels of organisational matrix. Pre-joining I focused on a plan on how to quickly introduce myself, share common purposes and gather a view on the culture. Then when I joined my first weeks and months were full of meetings across all levels of power vs influence. When it came to gathering buy-in to a people plan and subsequent deliver, it was grounded on the cultural understanding I had gathered and I had a network of individuals I could either mobilise, engage, influence or lead to deliver the plan.