How to build the right kind of social network

The best leaders rely on a robust and trusted social network – both online and offline

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A successful career strategy will include a strong network of people from different backgrounds.

Why do you need the right kind of social network? Because the higher up you go in business and the more effective you want to be as a leader, the more you will need to collaborate to achieve your goals. 

A great way to do this is by drawing on and contributing to a trusted group of people who can share their diverse expertise and ideas with you. 
Follow these four principles to create the right kind of social network for yourself:


  1. It’s not about how many people you know but who you know

    Managing your network is not about making small talk to a room full of people who are just like you, but about creating a network of the different people who can give you new perspectives and information. 

    A key challenge of leadership is innovating and creating – being connected to a diverse group of contacts will help you come up with better ideas. 

  2. Think about the structure of your social network

    How are your circles of people tied to each other? If everyone is connected to everyone else, it’s likely that your network is a closed one with everyone sharing the same views and commenting on the same topics. 

    If people don’t all know each other, then you will be able to tap into different sources of expertise and gain different perspectives. Innovating is about reconnecting ideas from different places.

  3. Make strong connections. 

    You need to build a robust network based on learning and giving. This can be an uncomfortable idea for some leaders but you have to build a network that has advantages to everyone. 

    This means helping each other out, with a focus on what you can give rather than what you can take. By activating reciprocity, you will keep people engaged and build a stronger relationship that you can rely on to help you out.

  4. Maintain your social network. 

    Make a habit of keeping in touch with the diverse contacts you have, and pay attention to everyone individually – it’s more effective than taking a scattergun approach. 

    And if you are networking face-to-face, make a point of meeting people from different walks of life.
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