This episode covers how to build a peer network within your organization and is part 2 of the “Transition Into Management” series. This podcast episode covers the importance of building an effective network of peers within your organization and the 7 Steps to Build Your Professional Peer Network to take you from super doer to super manager.
This blog is a companion piece to one of our Engaging People Podcast episodes, which is part of a series on making the transition into management. In the podcast episode, we describe the need to create a peer network. This blog highlights some of the key points touched upon in the podcast.
I was a shy, awkward child who was forced to take a girl to the senior prom because it would be “good for my growth and development,” at least that’s what my parents told me. So the idea of building a network of friends and associates when I became a working professional was as foreign to me as French cuisine.
In fact, it took me quite a while to see the importance of building professional networks. Yet, after observing my mentors excel at this quality, I began making it a priority in my career. My goal with this post is to expand on this idea and to suggest that one of the most important things a new manager can do is to take the time to build a strong peer network.
It goes without saying that after your promotion to manager you will be highly focused on building relationships with those you manage. Where some managers get tripped up is that they forget to forge relationships with their peers. As a new manager, you will need the support of not only your team, but also other business functions and individuals in order to be successful. Since you don’t have direct authority over your peers, you can’t simply demand help as soon as the need arises. You need to take the time to build a solid relationship with your peers so that you can ask for help and get it.
So, once the dust has settled on your promotion to manager, you need to sit down and start thinking about building your peer network. Effective networking doesn’t happen naturally. It’s a process that requires effort, as well as forethought and planning. Here are seven steps you might consider as you build your peer network.
Step 1 – Identify those with whom you already have a relationship
Make a list of these folks. Start thinking about ways you can develop a relationship with them. Also, you should be primarily focused on ways you can help and serve them. Good relationships start and end with you having a sincere desire to help the other person.
Step 2 – Identify who else needs to be in your peer network and why
Think creatively in this step and don’t forget to consider those that will be advocates, those that are needed for your team to succeed, and those that can help broaden your influence within the organization. Additionally, at this point, you should start thinking about who would be a good mentor to help you make the transition to management. But, again, don’t focus too much on what they can do for you. Think about how you can make the relationship a win-win for both parties.
Step 3 – Select a mentor
However, don’t rush out and ask someone to be your mentor. That would be creepy. Instead, ask this person to lunch, and then politely ask them for suggestions on what they found useful or effective as they first started managing others. If you find the makings of what might be a successful mentor/mentee relationship, then you can continue to cultivate the connection.
Step 4 – As time passes, don’t forget to plan for things you can do to strengthen the relationships within your peer network
Remember to follow the kindergarten rules. If someone is nice to you, don’t forget to return the favor. Be considerate. Be polite.
Step 5 – Make sure your relationships are founded on trust
Any degree of self interest will hurt, not help, the connections you are building.
Step 6 – Become an effective communicator
Take the time to read and study about how to be a better communicator. So much of your success as a leader and a manager will depend on your ability to convey concepts in a clear and concise manner, and to have those concepts understood and acted upon by others.
While I am sure there are other steps that might be included in my list, I am confident this is a pretty good start. The precise number of steps is irrelevant; the goal is that you take a proactive approach in building your peer network. In addition, don’t forget to focus on how you can help others as opposed to how you might benefit from the association.
Finally, there is one other critical point to ponder. Don’t just build a network with those that have similar interests as yours. If you are a rabid New York Mets fan, you could probably do with some perspective from one who enjoys post-modern architecture. Seek out connections that are diverse. Make sure you are connecting with both men and women, and that you seek interactions with minorities and others who have different view points. Not only will you meet really cool people, you will find these different viewpoints and perspectives will greatly improve and enrich your professional life.
The transition into management can sometimes be difficult for new leaders. In EP007 Leadership Intelligence Podcast – Transition Into Management Part 1, DecisionWise COO and author, Matthew Wride, talks about what it takes to make the management transition successful. Learn about the five Ps of transitioning into management, motivations for moving into management, 10 myths about taking a management role, and how to navigate the “unfreezing” and “jelling” stages during the process.