In a world where virtual working becomes more and more common, networks are also becoming more and more important. A network can help you meet new people and advance your career. However, there is also organisational value.

A study by McKinsey concluded that “formal structures of companies, as manifested in their organizational charts, don’t explain how most of their real day-to-day work gets done. So it’s unfortunate, at a time when the ability to create value increasingly depends on the ideas and intangibles of talented workers, that corporate leaders don’t do far more to harness the power of informal networks”. The study advised that: “companies can design and manage new formal structures that boost the value of networks and promote effective horizontal networking across the vertical silos of so many enterprises today.

Taking into account the many networks that don’t even pass the two-year mark, this raises the question what makes networks work and what lessons they teach us for strengthening the networks we have. Yolanda, a Finance Improvement Specialist at Shell outlines the steps for creating networks that work.

“Let’s first define “network”. In this article, the term network can mean many things. A network is a group of people who are held together by a shared common interest. Members may come from different organizations or perspectives. A network can be formal and informal. It could be a professional association, a sports team, an employee network or a team of accounting experts in the organisation. A network is different from a project team as a project team is held together by a task. When the task is accomplished, the team is ended.

Here is how to increase your odds of creating a network that will last long enough to have an impact: