Thanks to social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, millions of people are connecting with one another 24 hours a day globally. These networks span across cultures and borders, and the information is shared at a click of a button through conventional and mobile devices. This has now meant unprecedented numbers of people are sharing and receiving information.
Another important facet of social media is the ability to create informal networks, where people can choose who they wish to connect with. People have the choice to decide who enters his/her networks and controls the level of information shared with one another. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are also now also being utilized by people for business success. These platforms are no longer the realm of social networking and many businesses and individuals are appreciating the benefits of initiating success strategies through informal networks.
Gone are the days where information was kept under wraps and people were operating with a scarce mentality. Instead, the new information age is about openness and generosity in sharing. Openness also fosters an abundance mindset where people are generous with time and resources. Openness is also the key to maintaining meaningful connections and this approach has many benefits from a personal and professional perspective.
Informal Networks Foster an Abundance Spirit
Informal networks are created between people with the view of sharing information, tips and helpful advice. When individuals view this reciprocal arrangement with an abundance mindset, then people will benefit much more. An abundance mindset enables people to feel there are lots of material and immaterial opportunities for everyone in the world.
Stephen Covey takes this abundance idea to the next level in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” when he talks about a win/win approach to managing relationships. Such relationships last longer because there is a genuine interest for both sides to achieve desired goals and ambitions. Consequently, this fosters building deeper relationships between people.
Openness is the Key to Success
However, for informal networks to operate successfully there needs to be a high level of openness and trust between the individuals. Openness is a vital component in informal networks because it will ensure fluidity in exchanging information and ideas between individuals. Openness may evoke vulnerability between people, but this is not a negative aspect. Instead, this can lead to people accepting one another more willingly and openness enables people to be more authentic.
Jeff Jarvis in his book “What Would Google Do?” argues openness is key attribute in a Google era, which advocates openness. This is something which Google has been instrumental in manifesting since its inception. Google along with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have played instrumental roles, in providing people with platforms to connect with one another. Another important facet of these social networking sites is the ability to transcend borders and cultures.
Benefits of Informal Networks
There are a number of benefits of maintaining informal networks and some are highlighted below:
- Feeling connected and part of a group
- Exchange of ideas
- Brainstorming ideas
- Raising confidence and self esteem
- Learning opportunities
- Being introduced to additional contacts
- Fostering authenticity
- Providing support and encouragement
- Building stronger relationships with individuals
- Greater personal choice in selecting people to join networks or exchange information/ideas
- Greater personal empowerment
- Fostering an abundance mentality which leads to greater personal and professional success
- Helping raise awareness for social causes
How to Get the Best Out of Informal Networks
Greater awareness leads to making informed choices when it comes to informal networking. Using informal networks for anything other than social reasons can sometimes put a strain of the personal or professional relationship, if this is not stated explicitly. It is therefore very important to get to know an individual well before approaching any issues relating to business or professional purposes.
The following are helpful tips for getting the most out of informal networks:
- Identify individuals in a personal or professional network whose strength, vision or business acumen skills are admirable.
- What lessons can be learned from these individuals?
- Can personal or professional synergies be identified by adopting a win/win approach?
- What is the ideal or best outcome for both sides?
- What obstacles, if any, are likely to emerge?
- What steps can be taken to ensure actualization?
- What needs to happen to inform the other party(s) involved?
- How can success be ensured?
The above will only help if individuals in the informal networks are happy to participate which is why it is essential to be open and honest from the outset.
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