Investing in Networking
Your network is earned. I was with a gentleman a little while back who told me this great story of an individual who came to him and said, “Hey, Jimmy” – (His name is not Jimmy, obviously) – “good to hear from you. We haven’t chatted since university. How are things? What’s going on with the wife and kids?” And then proceeded to launch right into, “Hey, so look Jimmy, I know that you’re working at ABC, Co. and I really would love to get introduced to your boss. It’s good to have you in my network.” And the individual that I was chatting with (Jimmy) stopped him right at that moment and said, “Hold on a second. I appreciate the fact that we went to university but you’re not in my network. My network is a very defined group of people who I have a lot of trust in and have a lot of trust in me, and we put our relationships and our reputations on the line when we deal with each other to other third parties, and I’m sorry but I can’t do that with you because I don’t know who you are. Yes, I know who you were, but I can’t stick my professional reputation on a three-minute, phone call 15 years after the last time we chatted.” The point being, relationships that define themselves as networking are earned. It’s not just connecting in LinkedIn, or understanding who is on Facebook. It’s about providing frequent feedback in a two-way stream of communication. Therefore, if you have not already done a good deal of networking in your career, starting from scratch now is going to be some hard work! However, I can guarantee you that it is hard work which pays off. It pays huge dividends. It may take a little while but you will be amazed at how refreshing, how fulsome, how rewarding it is to keep in contact with people who are genuinely part of your Dunbar Number (see early LinkedIn posts) on a regular basis with meaningful information. You will gather a great deal of strength in your personal and professional career by making sure that you maintain a genuine approach to networking.You should start building a list today, if you haven’t done so already.