I'm currently facilitating an 8-month long leadership course that meets monthly. Yesterday's topic was networking and connecting. As part of our work, I had them go through some exercises to look at their networks and diagnose where they had gaps and needed to do some more work.
What started to emerge as we went throught the exercise was how many of the participants network and connect on behalf of their companies, but they pay little attention to building connections that support their own career resilience and professional development plans. Connecting, for them, is about connecting to benefit their companies, which may or may not actually benefit them.
When we think about building our networks, clearly we need to pay attention to developing the connections that allow us to be successful in our jobs. We need to connect with customers and clients and people in our industries so that we're able to be effective in our work.
However, we need to understand that the connections that we make on behalf of our companies or organizations are not necessarily the connections we need to make to increase our own career resilience. We should never confuse what our company needs us to do with with we need to do for ourselves.
Connecting to build your resilience means developing connections that energize, nurture and challenge you, connections that help you grow personally and professionally, regardless of whether or not those connections get your company more business. You need mentors, communities of practice, and "way-showers"--people who can be role-models and supporters of your career and personal growth.
So here's your challenge for today. Go through your contacts and ask yourself if the people you're connected to are basically connections who benefit your company or organization, or are they connections that also help you grow and adapt to change?