Entrepreneurs and professionals should stop worrying about the size of their networks and concentrate on the value of each individual relationship, according to author and BizPrompt director David Sole.
In an exclusive chat with Growth Business, Sole warned against the temptation to focus solely on social media connections and look to build strong all-round relationships on a daily basis.
“Networking is something I do every day,” he said. “Often networking gets a bad press because people think it’s just something you have to do in the evenings with a cocktail, but to get real value from relationships it’s about a lot more than that.”
Sole also pointed to research that suggests as humans were are only capable of sustaining an upper limit of around 150 relationships – so a network considerably larger than this may not be adding maximum value to your working life.
“People have up to 1,000 connections on sites like Linkedin, and a similar around of friends on Facebook, but if you don’t develop a number of those relationships with face-to-face meetings you are in danger on not getting anything out of it,” he said.
“I am always looking at the skills and interests of people in my network and thinking about how they can add value to what I do: but also how I can add value to that relationship with my knowledge and connections.”
Before becoming an executive coach and networking expert Sole played rugby union for Scotland. He says that, despite his high-profile former career, he does not play on it to get ahead in his current role. But he does accept that there are some transferable skills he brings forward from those times.
“The main difference between sport and business in that in sport the results tend to be much more binary,” he said. “Whereas in business success is measured much more on an ongoing basis. But there are similarities in the way you need to build the best teams, pull in the same direction and have a shared sense of purpose to succeed.”
David Sole’s book 21st Century Networking is now available to oder here
Networking aid BizPrompt can be downloaded here