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Audit Your Professional Network

2 September 2019

I am fresh from attending an amazing conference on positive psychology.  A conference where I met lots of fun, intelligent, thoughtful, and intriguing people and was exposed to some great new ideas that will make their way into this blog over the coming months.  

I met many fabulous people and already I regret that it is going to be impossible for me to reconnect with all of them or dig down into the richness of knowledge that even a fraction of them generously offered.  This is a regret I often experience post a conference or other people meeting event. The knowledge I console myself with is that I know my professional network is a wide and healthy one that already stretches and nourishes me.

A great network has many benefits for a healthy career from exposing you to new thinking, connecting you to unknown opportunities, supporting goal achievement, connecting you to resources, calling on for favours, and many many more.  The quality of thinking of the people you surround yourself with determines the quality of your own thinking and helps ensure you are not blindsided by things that less connected people may not know about.

I would like you to ask yourself how healthy your professional network is?  Does it have people in it who think differently to you?  Does it have people from a range of different disciplines? Does it contain a diversity of people? Does it have people in it that don’t normally connect with each other?  Is it a network that continually evolves?

Few people argue that a wide and healthy network is beneficial.  Over the next few blogs I am going to share some tips on creating a healthy professional network.  First though, I want to encourage you to take some time over the next couple of weeks to give your professional network an audit so you can decide if it is valuable to make any changes in yours.

Here is how:

1. Start by listing 6 to 8 people who you have important work related discussions with.

2. Then list 6 to 8 people who are the most help in you getting your work done.

3. Finally list 6 to 8 people who have had impact on your professional development in the last couple of years.  Some people may be listed more than once – that is OK.

4. Make a long list of people from the names you have identified above then rate how close your relationship is with each of them (very close, close, not very close, distant).

5. Then assess how many people know each other in your network (a grid is good for doing this).

6. Finally, against each name answer the following questions:

Is this person senior to me?
Is this person a peer?
Is this person junior to me?
Is this person from a different organisation?
Is this person from a different area of my own organisation?
Is this person from a different industry?
Is this person the same gender as me?
Is this person the same nationality as me?
Is this person within 10 years of my age?
Does this person have a significantly higher formal education than me?
Does this person have a significantly lower formal education than me?
Is this person from a significantly higher socio-economic level to me?
Is this person from a significantly lower socio-economic level to me?
Is this person from the same state as me?
Is this person from the same country as me?

Once you have done your audit ask yourself what you notice.  Spend some time reviewing this audit and making notes about the different things that strike you about your network.  Next blog post we will look at some of the ways you can refresh your network if your audit gives you pause to do so.

As always wishing you a flourishing career.


Thanks to the work of Herminia Ibarra, Charles Handy Chair in Organisational Behaviour, London Business School, who's work this audit is based upon.

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