Some people say a leader is only as good as his or her network. Leaders need to be strategic, carefully planning their time to balance personal and professional growth. As such, everything a leader spends time on should provide a valuable return.
Great leaders know that networking is not optional, rather, it is a direct avenue to success and personal growth. In fact, research indicates that successful managers spend 70 percent more time networking than their less successful counterparts, according to Training Magazine. Further, people with a vast social network are more efficient, knowledgeable, creative and better problem solvers.
As you work to fit networking into your schedule, consider its many benefits to leadership development. With these considerations in mind, it will be much easier to make networking a priority.
No matter what level you've reached in your career, friendships are crucial to your success. Networking may seem to be purely a business pursuit. On the contrary, networking is also an opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals with similar life experience, passions and drive to succeed. Meeting people you can relate to will inspire you to improve as a person and provide you access to the support you may need during times of struggle. Further, forming new friendships means you'll have someone to share your newest business venture on their Facebook page, offer you a recommendation when you look to hire new talent, or invite you to a valuable conference related to your field.
Leaders who plan networking into their schedules make lasting impressions on their community. Networking events give leaders the opportunity to expand their contact base and introduce themselves, their business and their offerings to a community of potentially interested individuals. It makes sense that people who network are more successful, because people who show up for real-life interactions are more easily remembered and more likely to be called upon for business than the person who simply sent an email.
A broader perspective
Success in leadership requires more than hard skills. If you're starting a software development company, your knowledge of programming and technology is certainly key, but your outside insight and perspective is what will make you better at business. Networking events bring dozens of people with different backgrounds, goals and experiences together to share knowledge and meet other professionals. Networking events are one of the best things you can do to expand your worldview.
"Stagnancy is not part of the recipe for excellence in either leadership or personal growth."
Stagnancy is not part of the recipe for excellence in either leadership or personal growth. People who are constantly trying to grow in both their personal and professional lives know the impact of new opportunities, and networking events are the place to find those opportunities. Whether it's a new business partnership, an invitation to another exclusive event, or an introduction to the investor you've been trying to reach for months, a valuable opportunity is likely to appear at every networking event you attend.
The best leaders know there is always more to learn, and remain humble in the presence of people who have deeper knowledge and different expertise. You will be a better leader the more advice you take from others who have already succeeded. Beyond that, a study from Catalyst showed humility is one of four critical leadership factors for creating an environment where employees feel included. Leaders who are constantly seeking out the advice and insights of others are more likely to grow and be respected in their organizations.
Time management and planning is a challenge for any leader, but making networking a priority is not optional for individuals yearning to grow both professionally and personally.