Building a Quality High Performance Professional Network in the “Knowledge” Economy

In the knowledge-rich society and professional world we live in, building a quality high performing professional network should be a focus for every professional knowledge worker. More than ever, we need to be connected and integrated in communities that provide mutual value. It is no longer enough to have a network consisting of all the people you meet at conferences, through work or at other events.

We need to pro-actively develop and manage our professional network as an integral part of our career management in the knowledge economy. This is far more than just having the inter-personal skills to talk to people and make meaningful contact that can grow into lasting professional links. Having these skills is great, and we need them. But managing our professional network needs to go beyond that.

  1. We need to be able to ascertain the quality and performance of our professional network.
  2. We need to know what the strengths and weaknesses are of our current network.
  3. We need to know how to pro-actively manage our network to ensure we prepare for the next step in our career.

In order to do all of this we need to understand how knowledge is generated and shared in societies. We also need to understand how different kinds of people fulfill different requirements for knowledge. And, importantly, we need to know what our strengths are in professional networking.

When we look at our current professional network, we need to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses, and have a road map of how to improve and refine our professional network to serve us best, and also optimize value for all other members of our network.

Just like we suffer from an information overload in the current online and knowledge-rich world, we can end up having a large number of people that we know, but we do not derive the value that we could from the network because it is not suitable for our career, or is so overloaded that we are not able to have focused contact. We can end up wasting time by increasing the size of our network without really improving its quality and performance in our career or for anybody else in the network. If we allow that to happen, we also do not do others a service, because we all become numbers in one another’s professional networks rather than a well-functioning community that add value for one another.

There are more and more online tools and facilities that enable us to build global professional links and networks. The aim is not to participate in as many of them, or even to have as many contacts as possible. Rather, we need to utilize these wisely in order to build meaningful and useful professional networks that will become an integral part of the success of our careers.

Most courses (and online courses), as well as other information about professional networks focus on the inter-relational and social skills we need to build good links with others. These are important, but do not necessarily mean we’ll end up with a good professional network. Information on how to ensure quality and optimize value from the network for all participants is not readily available.

However, a quality, well-designed and high performance professional network is imperative in the knowledge economy.