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23 September 2021

The power of networking

They say it’s not what you know, but whom you know that matters. While this can feel like a cliché at times, there is some merit to this sentiment if you’re trying to secure a new leadership role, or looking to bring new leadership talent into your organisation. Here Ivan Zuvela – a Partner at Gerard Daniels – shares his thoughts on why networking is so important at leadership level.


Building deep and diverse networks

Actively building and maintaining networks is important for all professionals, but Ivan argues that networking is particularly important at leadership level, and for leaders who are looking to move outside of their current role, organisation or industry.

“Most of our clients want to bring leaders into their organisation that already have strong external networks that they can draw on to create new opportunities and to solve business challenges,” Ivan explains. “This means that building your professional network is just as important for finding new leadership opportunities, as it is for performing successfully in those new roles.”

Building quality networks is another important consideration. “For deep and diverse networks leaders must actively focus on growing and maintaining relationships across industries, job types, and at different levels within organisations,” says Ivan.

Demonstrating leadership qualities

Leadership qualities are highly sought after by any organisation looking to recruit senior leadership talent, and networking plays a critical role in demonstrating these qualities to prospective employers and executive search firms.

“Businesses want to find and attract leaders that are already highly visible and influential within their organisation and industry,” says Ivan. “Perhaps it’s not what you know, or who you know, but who knows you that matters most?”

One networking challenge for many leaders is finding ways to be seen and to stand out from the crowd. “To do this leaders must create opportunities to be seen and to showcase their leadership qualities,” Ivan continues. ”Presenting at conferences, hosting panel discussions, publishing relevant content and generally having a voice are some great ways to achieve this.” 

Networking during a pandemic

The global pandemic has had a profound impact on the way that we work. It has also changed the way that we network, with the quest for human interaction opening up new ways of building networks beyond the traditional face to face encounters people relied on before.

“As leaders we all understand the importance of building and maintaining networks and relationships, and during the pandemic I’ve experienced a really positive reception to having a chat about work, life, and everything in between,” says Ivan.

Finding the right cultural fit

During the pandemic Ivan has also witnessed a growing focus on the ability of executive and leadership talent to relate to people on a personal level. “In recruiting new leadership talent more importance is now placed on the alignment between the culture and values of a candidate and the organisation they are joining,” Ivan explains.

To find a good cultural fit businesses are keen to understand people’s interests and passions and what they commit and contribute to outside of their work. The growing focus on cultural fit is also expanding the value of a broader approach to networking.

“Networking beyond traditional professional networks and finding new connections through sporting clubs, community groups and more personal networks allows greater insight into the person beyond the professional,” says Ivan. “It also allows leaders to demonstrate some of the values and softer skills and attributes that a CV can’t effectively communicate.”

Broader thinking and perspective

At board level groupthink often happens when the desire for consensus overrides the desire to question or challenge, but Ivan believes networking offers the perfect remedy to this issue.

“Networking is an important part of tackling group think as it allows us to look outside our own circles and exposes us to more diverse thinking and perspectives,” says Ivan. “Networking also helps businesses to find more diverse talent, and bring broader thinking and ideas to the executive table.”

Whether you are a proficient or reluctant networker, it remains an important part of performing any leadership role. For advice on broadening your network, growing your profile or bringing new leadership talent into your organisation, reach out to Gerard Daniels today.

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