In a recent post, Four Elements of Open Innovation Success, I mentioned that a networked innovation culture is critical. But what does a good networking culture looks like? It’s such a new concept that there aren’t a lot of examples available to illustrate it, but here are some key components of a good networking culture:
- Top executives have outlined clear strategic reasons why employees need to develop and nurture internal and external relationships. This includes making clear how your company’s networking culture links with and supports your innovation strategy.
- Among the things to consider when developing your networking culture strategy is what types of networks you hope to build to support your innovation efforts. If your organization is moving toward open innovation, possibilities would include peer-to-peer networks for people working with open innovation in different companies, value- and supply-chain networks, feeder networks, and events and forums connecting problem solvers and innovators with your company.
- Leaders show a genuine and highly visible commitment to networking.
- Leaders must walk the walk, not just talk the talk. By making themselves available at networking events and by being visible users of virtual networking tools, they model the desired behavior and motivate others to participate. After all, who doesn’t want a chance to exchange ideas with the top brass?
- Leaders should also share examples of their networking experiences whenever possible. Spread the word about your own and others’ networking successes. Hearing you talk repeatedly about how networking is helping the organization in its innovation efforts will reinforce the message that this is important.
- Networking initiatives mesh closely with your corporate culture. This is not one-size-fits-all; each company’s networking efforts will differ. You can take bits and pieces, concepts and theories, knowledge and experience from others, but you still need to make it work for your own company.
- People are given time and means to network. Frequent opportunities are provided to help individuals polish their personal networking skills. Not everyone is a natural networker. But almost everyone can become good at it with proper training and encouragement.
- Both virtual and face-to-face networking are encouraged and supported.
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation