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24 Networking Tips


Tapping into the collective knowledge of an experienced peer group is a great way to explore ideas, build better programs, and reduce risks.  It can offer faster, cheaper, more effective ways to improve performance throughout your entire organization.  This exclusive guide shares 24 powerful ways you can create incredible value from your professional network. 


  1. We’re better together. Professionals in many industries find staying current is almost a full-time job … especially on your own. So, lean on your network. Remember … “all of us together know more than any of us alone”. Use your network to access the collective knowledge of peers. Use it to connect with colleagues who can offer insight and advice from their personal experience. Use it to build high-value relationships and fuel your career.

  2. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Peer-to-peer discussion and sharing can often provide a more effective and less expensive way to improve performance and reduce the risk associated with new initiatives. Use your professional network to avoid problems that have already been solved. The network will help you make quicker, more accurate decisions based on real-world experience and field-proven strategies.

  3. Refresh and renew.  The more you work in isolation the greater your risk for personal burnout and professional stagnation. We all need occasional help to refresh and renew. Your network is a valuable source of fresh perspectives and new ideas. It’s also a source of fresh energy and new enthusiasm, so reconnect and re-engage with colleagues and peers. Your professional peer network can provide a boost of energy for you and your organization!

  4. Expand your vision. Use your professional network to reach beyond your immediate market and specific industry. The opportunity to connect, share, and learn with professionals supporting different audiences and utilizing different approaches is extremely valuable. A cross-industry network gives you access to a diverse set of perspectives and insights; and colleagues who can offer new strategies and new ideas.

  5. Collaborate through a crisis. During the most difficult times you'll find you can lean heavily on your professional network. When a crisis hits, no one has all the answers. Conversation, candid discussion and knowledge sharing with a trusted network of peers is an effective way to navigate rapid change. Your ability to navigate a constantly changing landscape and overcome new challenges can determine your success. Moving forward, it’s likely the value of your professional network is greater than ever before.

  6. Find the fast path. A key value of your professional peer network is its ability to condense time frames by vetting strategies, streamlining the decision process, accelerating program development, eliminating missteps, and shortening implementations. Your network can show you the best path to almost any destination. 

  7. Reach out. Be proactive. Active participation is the key that unlocks the power of your professional network. The value you get from your involvement increases through active participation—for you and your network. And the more you participate the greater the value. So be proactive. Ask for input. Share ideas and experience. Reach out. Participation is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it.

  8. Benchmarking opportunities. Your professional network provides valuable opportunities to benchmark programs, practices and performance. Colleagues and industry contacts offer fertile ground to share and compare strategies and evaluate results. Seek out peer-to-peer discussion, industry benchmarking studies, and special-interest initiatives. Your network can help to validate (or not) what you’re doing and inspire you to refine and improve.

  9. Grow organically. Use your network to grow your network.  Focus on colleagues who will actively extend support and share insight. Ask your trusted connections for connections. Who do they recommend? Who do they find valuable? The goal is not to amass a larger audience, but to build important personal and professional relationships that enhance your knowledge and expand your abilities. Start organically and build a powerful network of experienced peers you can reach out to throughout your career.

  10. Connect frequently. Connect with your professional network frequently to stay abreast of new developments and best practice concepts beyond your core markets. Now more than ever, leaders benefit from understanding the potential presented by new ideas and emerging solutions. A network of experienced colleagues and peers can help you avoid dependence on entrenched beliefs and past strategies.

  11. Share openly. Let me expand on an important perspective from Ross Dawson, author of Living Networks. Your network exists for sharing and support. Yes, we all need to protect the important intellectual property in our organizations, but you can still start with an open mind. Sharing the good stuff will spread success and earn respect from colleagues who are in a position to help you. It’s how you build trust and the equity that makes your network truly valuable.

  12. Be responsive. You can’t always help, but you should always respond. We’re all busy and you may not be able to help with this request at this time. That’s OK. Let your colleagues know and encourage them to reach out again when there’s a need. A quick yes or no keeps your network healthy and shows that you value the relationship.

  13. Quality trumps quantity.  Be thoughtful about who is in your network and the best way to connect with them. Have a purpose and a plan. Be intentional about engaging in valuable networking activities, and ensure your virtual network is populated with people you know and trust. Bigger is not better if it makes it more difficult to sustain meaningful relationships with high-value colleagues and peers.

  14. Be in it for the long term. Let me paraphrase from Michael Simmons. Relationships are more than just strategic chess pieces that help you achieve your goals efficiently. A strong network of professional relationships will last beyond individual deals, transactions, and companies. They are constantly and independently evolving as the people in it grow, thereby compounding value for all. So, take a long term view of the value of your network and reap the rewards throughout your career. 

  15. The benefits lie beyond building. Our goal should not be to build a network … but to participate in one. The greater your involvement and contribution, the more you receive back in the form of valuable connections and candid insight from peers. When you participate with the network you are expanding your impact, supporting colleagues and contributing to their success AND advancing the industry one small step at a time. 

  16. Get the full picture. A strong professional network should provide a rich ecosystem of unmatched knowledge and experience. It can include a full spectrum of resources and insight embracing colleagues, consultants, thought leaders, service providers, analysts, associations and peer groups. Each brings unique, valuable resources to the network through their individual contacts and affiliations. Remember, it takes multiple perspectives to create a 360-degree view and everyone has something to contribute.

  17. Build a strong internal network. It’s just as necessary to build relationships within your organization as it is to do so with external colleagues. Having a strong internal network will help you impact the organization and can provide an effective support system. Plus, your internal connections can also be great sources for new external relationships.  Mentors, peers and colleagues can be a source of valuable professional connections.

  18. Remember to say thank you. When someone takes the time to help you with a question, a referral, or a favor … make sure to say thank you. It's a small thing, but their time is in high demand and short supply—just like yours. Let them know you appreciate the effort they made to be a responsive, active participant in the network. And then why not offer to return the favor.

  19. Seek diversity. A dynamic network will embrace a broad spectrum of people and perspectives.  Age, experience, industries, gender, culture, ethnic background all contribute to the range and richness of the ideas you’ll get from your network. Diversity enables us to consider perspectives and possibilities that might otherwise be missed.. A fresh perspective from an alternative point of view can shed new insight on an old problem.  My mentor used to say, “If you and I always have the same ideas and answers then one of us is redundant.”

  20. Be trustworthy. Trust is a requirement for any network to be truly valuable. Never share confidential information you’ve acquired through your network unless you have permission to do so. If you’re not sure whether a piece of information is confidential, keep it to yourself until you know. If you need to mention one of your contacts by name—perhaps when using a referral—you should have their permission first. Long-term success is based on building and respecting trust-centered relationships.

  21. Get your team involved. You can expand the value of your network dramatically by getting your team engaged. An initial connection between senior leaders can be expanded to bring together members of both leadership teams. Remember to connect functional leaders for WFO, QA, Training, Technology, etc. When you do, the opportunity to share and learn grows beyond the initial relationship and offers new, lasting impact across the enterprise.

  22. Think globally. Collaboration and success increasingly involves teams that are both virtual and international. Colleagues and teams are scattered across countries, time zones, and cultures. Leading a global team requires increased sensitivity to and understanding of your own cultural biases and preferences as well as those of your dispersed team members. A peer network of informed, interconnected contacts can provide broader access to new and valuable information.

  23. Build a board. Benchmarks, research and industry best-practices all help shape strategic decisions. But to be truly valuable, information must be accompanied by insight, perspective and experience. Understanding how information applies in your environment is often achieved through candid conversation with peers. Where do you go for ideas and answers? The network you build is always available … wherever you go … throughout your career. It’s a living knowledge base--a personal advisory board of insight and experience.

  24. Share it now. When you run across a valuable article, webcast or book don’t keep it to yourself. Share the information while it’s fresh. We all have something worth sharing that comes from the information we consume, the events we experience and our personal insight. You can share on-to-one or make it social. There are myriad channels connecting colleagues and peers. Sharing knowledge helps spread success. It’s not ego … it’s service. And, it doesn’t have to be the NEXT BIG THING. Small ideas deserve a chance to grow, so plant the seed. Share the idea and let your network expand the conversation. 


This guide is written from decades working in the customer service and support realm. If you think these tips are useful to a conversation or a colleague … we hope you’ll share them.  - Lon Hendrickson, Executive Director, CCNG Magnet Program