Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at the London Business School, believes that “building networks, especially those outside the organisation will be another key leadership skill”.
We used to do our ‘schmoozing’ face-to-face but these days social networking sites are what we use to foster collaboration, within the company, and well beyond.
Gratton calls this a ‘cloud of acquaintances’. She says: "This network is a ‘community of practice’ in the sense that it has been built around a common shared interest or experience”.
So good networkers trade information and offer advice and expertise, the sort of information that is usually something you have not already thought of. They give you leads and they introduce you to their contacts because they take pleasure in being a conduit.
In 1973, Mark Granovetter published The Strength of Weak. When the author looked at how people find jobs, he discovered that it is not through strong ties but rather through weak ties, i.e., it seems people did better with those they didn’t know very well.
Check out the groups, there are probably at least a dozen that cover business topics you are interested in and even more that cover your social interests. Check the events pages too. Put up some recommendations for colleagues, Keep your profile up-to-date, and spend time each week updating your page and your connections.
Put a link to your profile in your email signature block. If you are thinking about freelance or contract work, starting up your own enterprise or adding to your portfolio of roles you can use LinkedIn as a business tool.
Clusters of happy and unhappy people were discerned within the studied networks, within a reach of three degrees of separation: a person’s happiness was associated with the level of happiness of their friends’ friends’ friends.
Helen Menhenett is head of research at career management consultancy, Fairplace Cedar.