A strong business is built on a healthy social network within it, which is all about employee engagement. This is the first of a three-part series on social networks and how they impact our abilities to navigate and succeed at work. For this topic, we are going to talk about establishing trust – especially among influencers who can help impact your career. So where, then, does it all begin?
Just like any social network, the one that supports the business, and your career, is driven by people. Most importantly, it’s driven by people who know people. For the purposes of this article, we are going to talk about two important groups of people who navigate social networks and how they can build trust in order to get more exposure, build professional relationships that are mutually beneficial, and win the kind of assignments that get them noticed by the right people.
As a professional, becoming a valuable contributor to your company’s social network by building trust relationships will not only grow your company’s bottom line, but also your career itself. Here are two ways to build trust relationships as each type of social network player.
In a social network diagram, teams or departments are represented by circles and the lines that flow between them represent the employees that are “connectors.” Those are the people who collaborate with many people from different groups in order to get work done in the most efficient and effective way possible. There are also superconnectors, a phenomenon recently outlined by the Wall Street Journal about managers who are so overwhelmed with collaborative projects that they run the risk of never getting anything of value accomplished.
If you are a connector, your best approach is to learn how to delegate effectively. A good connector is able to contribute to an increase in efficiency by being aware of the capabilities and limitations of individual members of his or her team. When delegation is carefully refined to reflect team members’ personal strengths and weaknesses, productivity will shoot up, along with employee satisfaction. A good connector within any social network is someone who has earned the complete confidence of his or her peers, and has consistently demonstrated an ability to get the job done by using positive feedback loops and strengths development tools.
Similarly, the people who represent “bridges” are the ones who become the sole connection to another group. Everything of importance goes through this one person. You might know a bridge in your company if that person has ever gone on vacation and all progress on a project comes to a grinding halt because he or she is the only one the other team or department knows and trusts.
Because a bridge is a highly connected member of the network, he or she naturally has insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the network that others don’t. As a bridge, you’re able to identify which parts of a network are isolated islands, and as a result you’ll find yourself in a position to forge important connections between employees, teams, or entire departments. These kinds of broad improvements in collaboration, and elimination of islands, translate to an overall strengthening of the company’s network, and an often significant increase in profitability. Try working with an executive coach, or otherwise getting into an executive training program, to ensure that your leadership skills continue to grow and thrive.
One of the most important factors in being worth knowing is trustworthiness, or reputation. In other words, knowing what you’re doing is critical, but there’s more to being trusted than just competence. Being able to get the job done is step one. But will you get it done, done well, and on time? Competency is important, but it’s not enough without reliability. These two traits together form the foundation of your reputation. Growing your trustworthiness is one of the first and most crucial steps to growing your career, and maintaining that reputation is key to becoming a network player within your business.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where we discuss how to garner visibility and get known quickly in a social network.
For more information about leadership development, employee engagement and executive coaching, please contact Christina today.