When we look at how networks took shape before the advent of the internet, we see that the most influential connections we made were based on proximity. Overall diversity was oftentimes lacking, in the sense that our networks tended to be comprised of people like us: people in similar industries, regions, career stages, and roles. Naturally, we built relationships with people we came in contact with; networking was tied to deep, in-person relationship building.
Over the past twenty years, as we’ve witnessed the rise of digital media, our networks have grown exponentially. We can connect with anyone around the world. We’re able to find people in different industries, in different roles, and at different types of companies. While there is great power in this — just as diverse companies yield higher returns, diverse networks do, too — it’s hard to grasp how to foster and build relationships most effectively in an entirely digital sphere. We can connect with someone on LinkedIn, but what does that mean? How do we nurture true connections in this digital age?
As someone with a broad network (it is part of my job, after all), I often contemplate questions such as, “How do I best engage with my network? How do I better get to know my connections? How do I keep these relationships top-of-mind in a world where we are often rushing from one appointment to the next?” We all strive to create and foster networks that are ever-growing, dynamic, and impactful, and often we are unsure how to do that. This is something we’ve thought a lot about at Ellevate, and these conversations and questions have influenced the way that we approach relationship building, and the programs that we create to help our members achieve these important goals.