This is the second of three parts of an interview with Mike Dulworth, author of a great new book called The Connect Effect: Building Strong Personal, Professional, and Virtual Networks. Mike is CEO of Executive Networks, Inc. In part one I mentioned that having a strong network is critical to personal and professional success for leaders and we covered three questions:
–What prompted Mike to write the book
–Why he thinks networking is so important today, and
–What he means by the “Connect Effect”
Here’s part two:
Jim: What do people who are really good at networking do that other people don’t?
Mike: First of all, they understand the power of a good network and work consciously to build their network. Second, they give first and ask for a favor second. Third, they are good at asking questions of a new contact that lead to a connection that can be built upon (like a common friend, we both lived in Kansas, we went to the same school, we’re both Democrats, etc.). Fourth, they stay in touch, at least once a year. Fifth, they create a Personal Board of Directors (of 6-10 people) that is their “go to” network for important advice and counsel.
Jim: How do you know if you have a good network or not, or even if you are any good at networking?
Mike: In the book I have a questionnaire for measuring your NQ. NQ stands for Networking Quotient. Just like a person’s IQ (or Intelligence Quotient), everyone has an NQ. The NQ questionnaire has two major sections: the first asks about the scope and strength of your network; the second asks about your networking activities. Understanding your current NQ is important to making changes or improvements that can raise your NQ score. The good news is that raising your NQ is totally within your control which is not the case with your IQ which is pretty much determined by your genes.
Jim: What advice do you have for leaders about how to use networks to improve their effectiveness?
Mike: First of all, I say that everyone networks everyday; they just may not think they do. Everyone talks daily to a family member, a work colleague or a friend and this is a form of networking. Additionally, most everyone meets someone new everyday. The trick is to find a way to build and maintain your network that is comfortable for you. This is where personality, style and preferences come into play. If you’re an introvert, you may not like large gatherings. So meet a contact for lunch or go online and build and communicate with your network. Networking is not simply the act of going to social or “networking” events to try to meet new people. I’d argue that networking needs to be thought of more holistically and approached with a deliberate process mindset (i.e., “Have I networked today?”). Second, I’d stress that most people’s networks are a lot better and stronger than they think. They’ve just not taken the time to map their network or to think about who the important contacts are within their network.