By Vanessa Rogers
If you’re contentedly employed in a well-paying senior management position, you may think it unnecessary to work that extended network any further. But recent research would instead encourage you to reestablish contact with your outer circle – pronto.
The authors of a Harvard Business Review study – “Social Networks and Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, as published in Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World – advise that we think of our combined personal and professional networks as an interconnected series of circles.
While we’re likely to have intensified our heartfelt relationships with family, close friends and trusted colleagues over the past few pandemic-intensive years, and especially with the handful of individuals we generally turn to in a crisis, our outermost ring of acquaintances is likely to have diminished.
Sociology academics Balazs Kovacs, Nicholas Caplan, Samuel Grob and Marissa King set about comparing the networks of hundreds of individuals both pre- and post-pandemic, and found that the size of that outermost ring – across the board – had almost indefinitely decreased.
While the concomitant strengthening of people’s closest relationships was in no sense a negative development, maintaining a connection to those outer rings has almost always been proven to boost innovation, creativity, problem solving and employee well-being. It really is the “golden circle”.
When the CEO Magazine picked up on this research in April 2022, their stance set out to prove that while the remote work we’ve all been party to can be immersive and leave us with little energy to extend the olive branch, reconnecting with professional contacts (such as by thanking one person for a referral, or requesting professional advice from someone else) is a great way to rebuild that vital outer network.
Further, most of us who are securely employed in senior management at a big corporation have lost focus with how things work among vibrant South African entrepreneurs. When funds are limited and time is short, you’ll always do business with the people you know, like and trust – outer circle included (with a great reference!) – rather than kick off with a complete unknown.
So how, then, do you nurture – or find the time to engage with – this extended conglomerate of ultra-talented colleagues who seem, right now, just out of reach?
Basically, you splash out from simply updating your LinkedIn profile – and join a dedicated networking group, such as Boardroom International. Here, you’ll find yourself happily collaborating with an elite group of similarly skilled and experienced C-Suite and board directors, while establishing a weighty online presence comprising your own unique skill set and areas of experience.
It’s all about taking in the advice you need but may not be party to from within your own workplace, and gaining confidence as other senior members of the network sit up and recognise what worth you bring.
Let’s be honest: a happy senior executive role is only as good as the partners you have on board. So it pays to keep your network – even that farthest and most extended outer circle – as close as any valued inner sanctum. This way, you’ll have somewhere to move across to, where the remuneration is as good or even much better, when your current corporate scenario no longer suits your highest personal and professional objectives.