John Bennett/ February 28, 2020/ Development, Leadership

Imagine the complexity of a highway…all of the roads that feed into it, as well as the roads that the single highway feeds. That same complexity is true for bus systems, subways, and air traffic systems. Beyond transportation, there are countless other examples of these complex systems — healthcare, food, water, electricity, information (the internet) and even diseases. Not only does each part play an important role, it is also related in one or more ways to other parts of the system. Our personal networks are the same. 

The connections we make, and the relationships we buildare part of a system of connectivity. It is not onlyimportant who you know, but also critically important who they are connected to. If your network is only a few people whose network is also only a few people, your connectivity cannot flourish. With whom are you connected? What is the strength of those connections? Who are those connections networking with? In other words, what is your social capital?

Here is an exercise, or 10 steps you can take, to build, maintain, grow and use your relational connections—your network:

  1. Draw 4 concentric circles (similar to that of a target). This is your network, your relationships. Please your name in the center. 
  2. Make a list of the people you have the closest connections or relationships with. This may include friends, family members, work colleagues, etc. You may have a few or several—try to stay focused on the top 5-8. These are enduring relationships with depth and strength.
  3. Place those names in the first ring of your target. These are your core relationships.
  4. Make a second list that includes relationships with whom you are close, yet not as close as in the first list. This may also include family members, work colleagues, and friends. And, the list is likely to be larger than the first list—perhaps 10-25.
  5. Place these names in the second ring of your target. These are your important relationships
  6. Make a third list of people you would like to add to your network or with whom you would like to build a stronger relationship
  7. Place these names in the third ring of your target. 
  8. Consider this: Are the relationships where you would like them to be? Perhaps you want to move someone to the core (or into the second or third ring). Or, you might want to move someone to your network. If so, move their names in a way (circle, bold, underline) that you will notice the change.
  9. Make a fourth list of people you would like to meet or with whom you would like to build a relationship
  10. Finally, consider this: Who do you know and have a relationship with (first or second ring) that can help connect you, or help you to build a relationship with those in your third ring? What’s in it for the person you want to build the relationship? How will you ask for their help? What’s in it for them?

As you put this exercise into practice, I recommend that you help others build their relationships and connections as well. I’m interested in your thoughts, so please leave your comments below. 

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash


© 2020, John L. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

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