This series has called attention to the importance of professional networks and the characteristics of an effective network (Part 1), the key objectives of network training and network devleompment (Part 2), the common challenges trainees face in applying insights gained during network training to their own network development (Part 3), and common barries trainees face once back on the job developing their network (Part 4).
In this fifth part, we provide a step-by-step guide to transferring network training to real life. Training programs can teach people about how to build effective networks and identify areas where they need to improve. People have to use what they learn in training to actually develop their networks. Goals, strategies, and actions that match their specific network development needs are critical for maximizing network development.
To make the most of network training follow these 7 steps.
- Understand the characteristics of effective networks: Learn about the importance of openness, diversity, depth and resources in professional networks and how they each promote effectiveness.
- Identify your network development needs: Use a network assessment to compare your current professional network to the characteristics of an effective network and identify areas for improvement.
- Set network development goals: Identify specific goals that match your network development needs (i.e., that are aligned with the feedback a network assessment).
- Develop networking strategies: Determine what networking actions you will take, including when and how you will interact with specific people; ensure these strategies align with you goals.
- Take networking actions: Engage in specific behaviors designed to develop, maintain, and leverage relationships with others in order to enhance their career success.
- Overcome common barriers to network development: Be aware of common barriers to beginning, progressing, and maximizing network development and have a plan in place to overcome these barriers.
- Reflect on and reassess your network development: Periodically retake a network assseemsent and check in with peers, a mentor, or a coach to reflect on your progress and adapt as needed.