We all know networks can be key in finding and collating useful information, enabling access to resources to achieve organisational goals, and leveraging influence to gain political support in implementing corporate policies and managing change.
Networks matter because we use them to acquire and transfer knowledge and to belong. For all the transformative brilliance of social networks, a negative by-product is isolation. A lonely worker is less productive than a stimulated, connected one. So networking should be seen as a tool of performance enhancement.
Networking has helped me find great talent for the Financial Times as well as friends, mentors and allies throughout my career. But as well as making the time to network, and putting the effort in, at the heart of effective networking lies what's known as 'the law of reciprocity' - an unspoken agreement that the relationship will be of mutual benefit, backed up by evidence and action.
Of course, in the social, linked-in world we all live in today, the ability to network through social tools and the impact technology has made on how we approach networking has been a real game changer. Linked In was founded just over ten years ago and now has more than 225 million registered users. It may be the new water cooler, but I would still nearly always choose face-to-face networking where possible.
Finally, authenticity, respect and trust are key. The axiom 'what goes around, comes around' is something I live by. It's a karma thing, and it's real.
The junior agency person patronised by a client in a meeting ten years ago goes in-house and becomes corporate affairs director just as the former client goes 'portfolio' and approaches the corporate affairs director for work.
Being respectful, polite, kind and remembering what a small world it is costs nothing and can be more important than you'd ever imagine.
Adapted from a speech given by Emma Gilpin-Jacobs, global comms director, FT Group at Said Business School, Oxford University.