In working with companies that are trying to build a networking culture, here are some reasons I’ve identified for why such efforts can fail or not reach the hoped-for degree of success.
1. Lack of Time
Many of us simply do not have the time to network and build relationships. It is necessary to develop a strategy and initiate projects, but you also need to give your people time to invest in initiating and maintaining both internal and external relationships.
2. Lack of Skills
Some people are natural-born networkers; many others are not. But the basics of effective networking can be learned, just like any other business skill. With appropriate instruction and motivation, wallflowers can learn to work a room. By providing your people with this type of training you will give them a skill that will be invaluable throughout their careers.
3. Lack of Focus
A community or a network will only work if it connects people who share a common experience, passion, interest, affiliation, or goal. Your people need to have ways to find and join groups that are right for them and right for your company. In other words, you and your employees should only network when there is a good reason to do so. Random networking rarely results in anything but wasted time, which devalues networking in people’s minds and makes it harder to encourage them to try it again.
4. Lack of Commitment and Structure
The networking-will-take-care-of-itself-and-you-do-not-need-to-work-at-it attitude is not the approach to take toward building what increasingly is a core innovation skill. Building a networking culture requires commitment and structure to support it.
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