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Executive And Business Networks In Singapore and Asia Pacific (APAC) For Economic Growth

Executive networks help members improve their effectiveness and gain a competitive advantage in business. Executive network members share new ideas, solve specific problems and uncover best practices in a non-competing group. You can participate in networking activities and join networking groups for increased business effectiveness.

Every person you meet is a potential networking contact. A network replaces the weakness of an individual with the strength of a support system. Networking can be difficult. Reaching out to make and maintain contacts remains a tough task for many. Networking doesn’t come naturally to many people. Effective networking is a continuous process requiring consistent attention. Networking is a two-way relationship. Networking is actually about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. Executive networks can help with competitive insights and with exposure to new opportunities.

Networking can be done in-person, online or both. Meeting contacts face-to-face allows you to develop stronger bonds. Networking online is beneficial with the speed and ease of electronic communication. Executive networks can be facilitated by trained experts.

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When Henrik Balmer became the production manager and a board member of a newly bought-out cosmetics firm, improving his network was the last thing on his mind. The main problem he faced was time: Where would he find the hours to guide his team through a major upgrade of the production process and then think about strategic issues like expanding the business? The only way he could carve out time and still get home to his family at a decent hour was to lock himself—literally—in his office. Meanwhile, there were day-to-day issues to resolve, like a recurring conflict with his sales director over custom orders that compromised production efficiency.

Networking, which Henrik defined as the unpleasant task of trading favors with strangers, was a luxury he could not afford. But when a new acquisition was presented at a board meeting without his input, he abruptly realized he was out of the loop—not just inside the company, but outside, too—at a moment when his future in the company was at stake.

Henrik’s case is not unusual. Over the past two years, we have been following a cohort of 30 managers making their way through what we call the leadership transition, an inflection point in their careers that challenges them to rethink both themselves and their roles. In the process, we’ve found that networking—creating a fabric of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information—is simultaneously one of the most self-evident and one of the most dreaded developmental challenges that aspiring leaders must address.

Their discomfort is understandable. Typically, managers rise through the ranks by dint of a strong command of the technical elements of their jobs and a nose-to-the-grindstone focus on accomplishing their teams’ objectives. When challenged to move beyond their functional specialties and address strategic issues facing the overall business, many managers do not immediately grasp that this will involve relational—not analytical—tasks. Nor do they easily understand that exchanges and interactions with a diverse array of current and potential stakeholders are not distractions from their “real work” but are actually at the heart of their new leadership roles.

Like Henrik (whose identity we’ve disguised, along with all the other managers we describe here), a majority of the managers we work with say that they find networking insincere or manipulative—at best, an elegant way of using people. Not surprisingly, for every manager who instinctively constructs and maintains a useful network, we see several who struggle to overcome this innate resistance. Yet the alternative to networking is to fail—either in reaching for a leadership position or in succeeding at it.

Watching our emerging leaders approach this daunting task, we discovered that three distinct but interdependent forms of networking—operational, personal, and strategic—played a vital role in their transitions. The first helped them manage current internal responsibilities, the second boosted their personal development, and the third opened their eyes to new business directions and the stakeholders they would need to enlist. While our managers differed in how well they pursued operational and personal networking, we discovered that almost all of them underutilized strategic networking. In this article, we describe key features of each networking form (summarized in the exhibit “The Three Forms of Networking”) and, using our managers’ experiences, explain how a three-pronged networking strategy can become part and parcel of a new leader’s development plan.

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Key things that Betruedesign recommends to consider for increasing effectiveness of an executive network are:

  • Build your network before you need it.

Constantly build and strengthen your connections with your network. Do something to build your network each and every day.

  • Reach out to others.

Identify the specific need you have and then contact people who are in a position to help you fulfill that specific need. Don’t be afraid in asking for help.

  • Be specific.

Be specific in what you’re asking for. The clearer you make it for your network, the better your results will be. The more people know about your needs and objectives, the better they’ll be able to help.

  • Be a valuable resource.

Actively foster relationships. Networking must be a two-way relationship. Its easy to move forward by helping people who ask for assistance. Only this way your network will be stronger when you need it. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship.

  • Increase your visibility.

Establish yourself as an influencer. Mentor, speak at conferences, and participate in volunteering work.

  • Use technology.

Social media can also be effective in helping you achieve your networking goals.

  • Go deep and wide.

Build relationships with professionals across industries and locations, not just peer-level contacts.

  • Say thank you.

Always show your appreciation to members in your executive network.

At Betruedesign we strongly believe “Networking Is About Sharing”. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals.