The gift of strategic networking is of course, not merely confined to the Yi You (乙酉) pillar. Anyone of the 60 pillars can learn this art. But the Yi You, soft and weak on the outside, but possessing of an inner drive and action-oriented approach, perfectly embodies this ability.
In this weeks’ post, let’s explore the many facets of strategic networking. But brace yourself, this will be a long read ahead. I will do away from my usual format of Year, Month, Day and Hour for this post. Wherever the Yi You is to be found in your chart, you already have the natural gift of strategic networking. Even if you don’t have the Yi You in your chart, it can be learned.
Maximizing The Yi You (乙酉): The Gift of Strategic Networking
The Yi You is usually likened to a man-made plant-like ornament or a potted plant. Sitting only on its 7 Killings star, this Yi Wood is unrooted. This elegant Yi Wood looks sophisticated and non-threatening but is capable of combining the swiftness of wood with the precision of metal in its modus operandi.
From a classical point of view, this could be detrimental as it is equated with guile and deception. But again I must ask, is guile and deception always a bad thing? Before we judge, how about we replace those two words with one that is prized in today’s world – strategic?
Cleverness certainly plays a major role in making optimum use of the Yi You pillar. Honing this sharp mental acuity is how the Yi You survives in what it perceives to be a dog-eat-dog world. But honing cleverness is not enough. Being a rootless pillar, there is always a danger of becoming too fickle. Self-imposed discipline is needed here, in liberal doses if required, to boost the cleverness with perseverance and determination.
Like a vine latching on to a building, a tree or a stick to climb closer to the sun, the Yi You is naturally attracted to the limelight, and most of all, to successful people. This strategic approach will mean that people tend to wander in and out of your orbit, depending on the role they play in your current plans. However, this ability of the Yi Wood to prop itself up by relying on other elements, is exactly what strategic networking is all about.
Strategic Networking: It’s Not About Being Manipulative
Let’s clear a common misconception about networking here. Networking is not an insincere or manipulative way to elegantly use people. It’s about creating a web of personal contacts who provide the feedback, support, information, resources and insight that all of us need to grow.
This discomfort around strategic networking is perfectly understandable. Society has taught us to rise through the ranks by dint of task-based accomplishments. Strategic networking requires relational, instead of transactional, tasks.
Strategic networking is more than just a case of mutual back-scratching. Instead, the Harvard Business Review has identified three distinct but interdependent forms of networking – operational, personal and strategic.
Three Types of Strategic Networking
Operational networking is the most common form of networking. This is about how you get your job done. The depth and scope of this network can differ, but includes direct reports, superiors, peers, other internal forces that can expedite or block a project, as well as outside forces like customers, distributors or suppliers.
The purpose of this network, as mentioned, is to get things done. It is not concerned with what should be done. All of us have operational networks. These relationships are forced based on the tasks required and tend to be constrained by the job at hand.
In a Bazi coaching session, when we start talking about the need to expand on networking, many people will automatically assume that they should improve on their operational network. But for the coaching session to take effect, as a person grows, his or her network must be recalibrated externally and become more future-oriented.
Which leads us to the next point…
The Harvard Business Review defines Personal Networking as ‘professional associations, alumni groups, clubs, and personal interest communities through which a person gain new perspectives that allow them to advance in their careers.’
Which begs the question – why should you waste precious time on an activity that is not directly related with what you need to do? After all, there’s barely enough time in the day to clear your own deck.
This personal network is where the bulk of your developmental support (think: coaching or mentoring), information and referrals will come from.
Remember the six-degrees of separation theory? That is what the personal network is all about – it is composed of acquaintances with whom we have something in common. This personal network forms the base for the next and ultimate step, Strategic Networking.
This final stage is comprised of lateral and vertical relationships with people outside of our immediate control. The role of this network is to figure out how our own contributions fit into the big picture.
At this stage, the task of the Strategic Network is to help formulate broad business objectives. It is no longer concerned about functional objectives. The value of being plugged into a Strategic Network is to get keyed in on shifting business trends.
Strategic Networking is about influence. The ability to leverage the resources, information and support from one sector of the network to achieve results in another. Instead of merely influencing their environment, the smart Strategic Networker strives to mould it to become favourable to their own goals.
A Last Word on Strategic Networking
The topic of strategic networking is very closely related to the topic of Noble Persons in the study of Bazi. At the end of the day, it’s about the same thing – someone coming to you with the information or resource you need to move you one step closer to your goal.
With or without the Yi You in your chart, this is a skill that can be learnt. To start, learn to serve. Remember, strategic networking is a two-way street. In order to get, you must first give.
As always, a final caveat. Without the ability to see the full chart, I must stress that the suggestions in this article are broad recommendations based on a single pillar. To pinpoint specific issues or to co-create solutions tailor-made for you, please feel free to drop me a line.
Want to find out if you have the Yi You pillar somewhere in your chart? Plot your Bazi Chart with this free resource (registration required) https://bazibz.masteryacademy.com/.