Friday, January 05, 2007

3 types of networking

The current issue of Harvard Business Review talks about 3 types of networking: operational, where you network with people in the same organization for work purposes; personal, where you network for personal and professional development; and strategic, where you network inside and outside the firm, in order to better understand and appreciate strategic issues, trends, environmental opportunities and threats, etc.

Compared to the other two, strategic networking seems to be the most valuable but also the most difficult. Indeed, it is reserved for leaders and executives. The professionals and managers who do engage in strategic networking are, of course, lavishly rewarded for their effort given the strategic value of such networking.

However, one should proceed with caution when it comes to strategic networking, because one would usually be networking with high-level people.

For instance, in strategic networking, there is always an element of power during social intercourse (or even in non-personal communications such as emails). Politics (or the perceived evolving power of players) plays an important role in strategic networking.

I've noticed, for example, that powerful people I meet (CEOs, millionaires, editors, etc.) are highly sensitive to cues that I emit in regards to such things as acknowledging their elevated status, confirming their eminence (for lack of a better word), etc.

In short, powerful people are quite sensitive. White-glove treatment is always de rigueur.

A book I highly recommend to learn the art of the courtier, so as to be more effective at strategic networking with people in high places, is The Art of Worldly Wisdom, by Baltasar Gracian.