Networking: Why you only need a core group of 10

Success can be contagious. Ideas and relationships travel, adapt and grow over time. Meeting the right person, being in the right place at the right time, having candid conversations and collaborating in unexpected ways -- all of these can lead to success that even the staunchest strategist couldn't plan for.

Meeting people and building connections within the business world has rapidly evolved over the past decade; first-time meetings in boardrooms and fancy restaurants have lost favor to expansive public profiles on social media platforms. Formal introductions are no longer necessary in order to build a professional network -- through social media, you have the power to build your own from scratch.

Your ability to grow your business is only as good as the relationships that will help you get there, both in terms of providing guidance and professional development, as well as in opening doors and making connections. Creating a powerful network of accomplished individuals within the areas you're trying to crack is not a luxury, but a necessity in order to drive success. But how do you find these influencers and connect with them? By using the Power of 10:

Your network should be a targeted group of no more than 10 leaders who are successfully working in high-profile organizations with which you aim to align. By identifying executives who hold influential positions at the companies or within the industries you admire, you'll better position yourself to develop a strong professional network. Consider each professional connection you make to be a building block for a competent, core network.

Your Power of 10 should mirror the values you aim to manifest as an organizational leader. What do you value most in a leader, or where are places in your own career that you want to develop? Better team leadership, ability to pivot ideas, creative thinking, etc.? Identify the values you want to explore and look for executives who not only embody those values, but whom you can continue to learn from and engage with in a meaningful way in the long term.

Finally, think of your Power of 10 as the original social network. Much like a LinkedIn or other social networks suggest connections for you, you want to develop relationships with contacts and key executives who will be open to doing the same for you through tapping into their networks and genuine relationships.

It is important to do your research when identifying your core group. Here are three categories to consider:


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Previous colleagues

Previous colleagues of all types have the ability to remind you of where you started and those initial, important goals you set for yourself. They’ll remember the sweat equity and smaller milestones that built your character. These connections add a level of long term credibility to your circle. When connecting with this tier, be sure you are keeping up to date on their latest achievements. Your connections are not meant to be surface level. (This goes for your entire Power of 10 core!)

Interaction should be intentional and consistent, taking place approximately every six to eight months. During these check-ins, be able to genuinely speak about the state of your position and industry, have a working knowledge of that individual or organization’s current situation -- all coupled with legitimate questions and interest on the work they are doing.

Mentors

At this point, you should have experienced working with a person who has acted as a mentor to you in some capacity. Why has that person been important in your professional development? How have they challenged you? What doors have they opened for you? What sets you apart from being successful in the same way your mentors are? Maintain this connection and try and grow upon it. Strive to reach their professional level, and in doing so agree to become a mentor and advisor in your everyday professional role for one or a group of employees.

Aspirational leaders

It is most important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals that have executed the career goals you have set out to achieve. Identify who have you watched create a career path for themselves that you can take an honest look at and say, "You know they’ve really done it right. I want to be there someday."

Keep in mind that you should conduct research in order to understand the organizations that your core 10 are operating within. What corporation defines you? How are they affecting their respective industry? There is an innate skill set you should always be working to develop, beyond your cognitive abilities to "do the work." This involves constant intuitive thinking and decision making, which acts as an important layer in developing your EQ or emotional intelligence. It’s key to align ourselves with executive groups that fit our individual, long-term vision of growth and success.

Once you have identified your Power of 10 core, utilize purposeful communication that highlights your interest in the members and shows your growth as a leader and development as a professional. Remember that not everyone wants to be a mentor or wants to see your career grow, so you have to develop a two-way relationship with them where they can feel they are gaining something.

Sometimes that's as simple as asking advice (validates the person's career) and or touching base on the other person's accomplishments regularly with no agenda. Engage within your business social channels like LinkedIn by creating intentional, targeted content that displays how your thought leadership is in line with theirs. These tangible updates should serve to keep you on the radar for each of your 10 and create new personal and professional opportunities that can lead to major successful advancements.

 

Joe Guith is the president of Cinnabon, LLC, the market leader among cinnamon rollbakeries. Cinnabon currently operates over 1,200 franchised locations worldwide, primarily in high traffic venues such as shopping malls, airports, train stations, travel plazas, entertainment centers and military establishments.Cinnabon is also a multi-channel licensor, partnering with other companies to provide over 70 brand licensed products at foodservice and retail venues. Guith has spent the past 20 years leading many operations within the food service, consumer products, technology and retail arenas. He has held executive roles including the vice president of US vending operations for Coca-Cola and South
territory general manager with KFC. Additionally, he was a management and strategy consultant for companies such as Molson Coors Brewing Company and Staples, Inc. Since joining Cinnabon in 2014, Guith has led the company’s rebranding and storefront refresh and adoption of technological features including the Revel POS and Apple Pay to elevate the customer experience. He was appointed chief operating officer in April 2014 and named president in January 2015. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife, Stacey, and two children, Jack and Abby. For more information on Joe, please visit his LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

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