The power of networking and the benefits of learning from your peers is no great secret. Since the dawn of time in business, we know as leaders ourselves, that building strong relationships with people is an extremely valuable use of time and in many cases is attributable to the growth and success of many organisations today. But in a time that faces a distinct lack of trust in leadership, the demise in workplace culture, one that pushes people to their limits (regardless of the cost) and a rising number of people suffering with many forms of mental illness, one has to question whether the more traditional structures for networking and developing relationships are actually working today?
The truth is, a new approach is needed to give a stronger voice to the talent and leadership that is breaking through today. Emerging leaders in society are, in all honesty, not what they used to be. When it comes to networking and building relationships in business, although we all recognise and appreciate the importance of this, we do tend to stick within our industry sector, within our comfort zones and with what makes logical sense to us on the surface. If, however, we dig deeper, is there an argument that says we should be taking inspiration and learning from people in all walks of life?
Breaking down the ‘safe’ barriers
Most of the time we take the obvious route, we network within our own ‘safe’ community, in our own industry or at least through word of mouth (again via our community) – even though deep down we know it is probably not the most effective way to learn and grow as a leader. The truth is there are many other sectors that we can take inspiration from and apply those learnings to our own situations. But for that to happen we need to break down some barriers first if we are to broaden our mental agility and create positive change.
One industry we can learn a lot from as CEOs in business is from the world of sport in terms of how we lead and develop our teams. In sport you have to work as part of a team to reach the end goal, success doesn’t happen in isolation, you need trust, you need common goals and you need that relentless drive and passion to succeed.
Stepping outside of your ‘typical’ circles
Having the desire to network and build business relationships across any industry will in time, bridge the gap that does exist today. There is a great deal of scope and potential for learning in business and most of it is on our doorstep. We are arguably missing out on a wealth of expertise that could shape businesses of the future. Sharing knowledge with people from any industry sector can be extremely powerful in business because everyone brings with them a different thought process and approach that others can learn from. It’s all about broadening your mindset, taking a step outside of your typical circles and realising that you can take inspiration from any market and apply it to your own situation.
Most would agree that people tend to excel when they feel valued or part of something bigger, we are inherently tribal as human beings and the desire to network and build meaningful relationships in business is a huge part of our culture.
Perhaps by removing experienced and emerging leaders from their comfort zones in the name of building stronger team cultures and promoting the spirit of relationships across any sector in the workplace, we can start taking the right steps towards a more proactive and positive world of life and business?
Standing up for something bigger
The theory behind the concept of building multiple industry relationships is that more open and broader minds result in greater opportunities to learn, better teams and better leaders. As business leaders and also entrepreneurs starting out, we have an opportunity to stand up for something bigger than just our own industry or innovations; we need to embrace a more proactive and positive role within our global community as leaders.
There is no doubt that technology has made businesses far more efficient and easier to control today but the responsibility of business does or at least should, extend beyond the boundaries of being simply about a profit line. It does also carry a responsibility for people in the community and in society.
Relationships in business are all about trust; everything else follows. Networking without industry boundaries and barriers can only be a good thing. Robust social structures and strong leaders evoke trust and belief. With trust comes loyalty and also security, this in turn impacts the workplace, its culture and its productivity – all of which equals success for the business longer term.
The truth is that success is about nurturing talent and that means people. HR often takes a lot of criticism when it comes to these kinds of topics, but the issue is far deeper. It is not just about cuts in learning and development either. There are genuine structural issues that have arisen in the last twenty years that have undermined confidence plus technological innovation and social media have changed much – some for the better; some for the worse. Rather than criticising, the key is to find new answers and solutions and for this to happen, people need to be placed back at the top of the board agenda again and learning about business culture from all kinds of people, irrespective of industry can really make all the difference.
EP is a leading communicator in business thinking and opinion with a focus on shared knowledge and connectivity across the hospitality industry. Bringing like-minded communities together, EP provides a central resource for the discussion and debate of key issues affecting businesses today. With an intention to facilitate and advise, EP also creates live face-to-face events, bridging the communication gap between organisations and their prospective audiences.
Working with hundreds of entrepreneurs across the UK, EP also provides consultancy and advisory services, professional communications and entrepreneurial development while publishing a range of printed magazines, books, reports and digital content.