How To Leverage Your Network And Build a Team

Building a Team and teamwork - leadership and management
Turn your crowd into a team (Stones crowd by EYE)

Are you building a team? First look to your key relationships and who is in your network

You will always be better or worse at various things compared to other people.  It is a simple fact of life, so rather than fighting against that or hiding your weaknesses, how much better, to be honest, and find other people who can balance out any shortcomings? The starting point for finding these people is your personal network. The best folk who can help you and you can help in return is your network.

This is the basis of a team: a complementary group of people who can achieve vastly more together than they can apart.  They are more than just the sum of their parts because when people are free to maximise their strengths, secure that others can work in areas where they are weaker, then their effectiveness is multiplied many times over.  Whether that is a team of just two people or an organisation of thousands, the principle still remains if there is trust and a complementary mix of people involved.

Here we are looking at key relationships rather than large teams; a network rather than a group that is already working together.  Who are the people who can really bring out the best in you?  They are likely to be people who you trust and respect implicitly.  These people could be family members, friends, a spouse or partner.

There is some truth behind the phrase ‘opposites always attract’ as, even when romance is involved, there is a balance between shared interests and complementary gifting.  When people have differences yet choose to operate together then one person’s weakness is covered by another person’s strength.

Start with the people you know

Who is in your network? Who are the key people in your social circles? It is worth spending some time really thinking through the most important relationships in your life.  These could be friends who have supported you or inspired you, people who have acted as a coach or a mentor, or folk who have been teachers or confidants.  These people are your closest and most important network and yet they are often overlooked or taken for granted.  If you need assistance, advice or even a business partner this should be the place where you start your search.

Networking can act as a trigger. As you identify people and think about how they have helped you, it can help you to discover areas in your life where there is a gap; somewhere you might like someone to play the role of coach, friend or partner.  Once you are consciously aware of the need you are more likely to find the right person to help fill the gap.  If they are the right person then they will be looking for you too – even if they don’t realise it yet!

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” 

Helen Keller

Analysing your network

One think that can help understand your network better is creating a graphical representation. Draw concentric circles onto a page.

  • The inner circle represents those you are in contact with daily
  • The next circle out are weekly connections
  • The third circle monthly
  • The fourth circle for those you see yearly

Beyond that, the extra space can represent either people you have been out of contact with or those you might like to connect with but haven’t yet.

Now draw two lines through the circles (so it looks like a target) and create four quadrants. These can represent:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Acquaintances

You can see an example below. If you want you can print this example off and use it as a template to draw on.

social network
Analysing your social network

Once you have added enough names to your social circles you ask some questions to analyse your network. For example:

  • Who can most help you with the challenge you are facing right now?
  • If you could pick anyone for your team, who would they be and why?
  • Which people are positive influences who you want to connect with more?
  • Which people are negative or energy-draining? How can you manage them better?
  • Who would you like to move closer to your inner circle?
  • Is there anyone that you know of, but are not yet in your circles, that you would like to connect with? How could you be introduced?

So, take some time to think about who you know and unlock the power of your relationships. Have a go with creating your circles now.

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton

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