A business network is a collection of people, preferably with a broad array of experience and knowledge, to which an individual is connected and with which the individual is in periodic contact. Ideally, any member of this network would answer an e-mail request for help within 24 hours. It’s that level of responsiveness that one should aspire to when assembling a sound business network. While building and maintaining a business network is important to ongoing job success, it’s even more important when transitioning to a mid-level or senior manager role. The speed at which individuals promoted into one of these roles can build a solid business network is directly related to how fast they will be able to make correct job decisions, because they will be able to access a range of appropriate information more quickly. Those managers who engage in business networking reap many benefits. Research on business networking has found that it is positively associated with salary growth, number of promotions, perceived career success, and current job satisfaction. It also is worth pointing out that one’s existing business network usually isn’t sufficient when transitioning into a new management role. People beginning a new job make a common mistake: They tend to rely on their old network of contacts and their knowledge of the organization. They don’t stretch themselves to develop broader networks or expand their knowledge. By not stretching themselves, they inadvertently put a drag on their speed to job proficiency. They fail to recognize that networking is a much more efficient means of gaining access to knowledge and information than is “learning it yourself ” through other means.
A business network should not be confused with a social network. Social networks are made up of people that you know and who are probably very much like you. They may be individuals with whom you are acquainted but who do not meet the requirements for a business network—they cannot be counted on to answer your e-mails or offer jobrelevant help when you need it. Even a particularly robust social network is no substitute for a business network. […]