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Your Network as an Ecosystem

Kara GreerFeaturing Kara Greer, Vice President & Manager, Talent & Enterprise Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance

What do you think of when you hear the word “ecosystem”? You likely don’t think of your professional network. But that’s exactly how Liberty Mutual’s Kara Greer describes her network: as a diverse ecosystem filled with colleagues, mentors, teachers, coaches, family, friends and acquaintances—all people with unique backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Greer has been building her network from an early age and attributes much of her professional and personal growth to the support she has given and received through it.

Here, Greer shares the three central tenets to her approach to growing her ecosystem:

  1. Your network is your net worth.
    Greer deeply values her network, which she continues to thoughtfully build and nurture. “Building social capital requires a strategic approach similar to building financial capital,” she says. “By having a clear understanding of the individuals in your network, the industries they are connected to and expertise they bring, you can leverage the relationships you have built and continue to focus on and build the areas where you may have gaps.”Greer is constantly leveraging her network. She relocated to Boston about two years ago when she joined Liberty Mutual Insurance in her new role as vice president and manager of talent strategy, commercial insurance and talent and enterprise services. She immediately set out to strengthen her local connections by attending key industry leadership forums. She attended a local meeting for human resources professionals and introduced herself to other professionals at the meeting. One of the people she met is a local pillar of the Boston business community who has become a valuable ally, sponsoring Greer for membership to the Boston Club, an important organization for top executive women in the city.
  2. Networking takes courage and goes both ways.
    Greer believes that networking is as much about lending your expertise to help others to grow as it is about building your experiences and opportunities.So when Greer moved to Boston, she reached out to the administration of her boarding school, St. Mark’s School in Southborough, and offered her time and expertise at its career development days. She also tries to attend as many career development events at other schools as she can.

    And when Greer wanted to gain board-of-director experience, she reached out to the director of her childhood summer camp, where she had remained active as a volunteer and donor. Today, she is entering her fourth year on the camp’s board, through which she has also expanded her network. “Building and leveraging your network requires a give and take relationship, and having the courage to give of yourself and actively ask others for help is an important part of networking,” Greer adds.

  3. Networking with purpose is key.
    To build a strong ecosystem, Greer recommends taking a thoughtful approach to gatherings, especially events that have time scheduled for networking. Determine the areas of expertise you would like in your network and strategically seek out people with those experiences. Greer also considers the many dimensions that make a person who they are, and she makes a conscious effort to ensure people in her global ecosystem represent a variety of perspectives and experiences.Finally, it’s important to hone your ability to be succinct and specific in your introduction. “So develop your anchor statement of who you are,” Greer advises. “That way, you can more readily express your passion and interests and create a connection with the people you want to bring into your ecosystem.”

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