Care for your network
and keep it growing
A client I greatly respect wasn’t impressed by my ezine: Care for your network and keep it growing. I gave advice from great networkers who seem able to stay in touch with huge lists of contacts.
My client’s reaction was “well, duh!” She said that everybody knows about the importance of networking, and she objected to the term “networking” because the concept should really be about relationships. I understand her discomfort with the term “networking” and think we may need more than one word to describe different types of activity. Social scientists have long used the term “social network” to describe a complex pattern of relationships that tie people together. But recently “networking” has been used more broadly, to include marketing activities like passing out your business card to strangers, or using Twitter to build your business brand.
The point my ezine apparently didn’t drive home is that the foundation of your network should be a collection of real, authentic relationships with other people. And networks cannot be created overnight. Successful, happy people tend to place a high priority on staying in touch with the folks they know, and they consciously build and care for many types of relationships.
But I think that my client – a highly successful attorney – is incorrect in her view that everybody recognizes the great importance of networks. I speak with many professionals who feel too busy to focus on their relationships. And then they want to quickly make up for lost time when seeking new jobs or other kinds of change.
Forgetting about your network of relationships is an easy mistake to make. Early in my career I felt guilty about chatting on the phone or otherwise spending much weekday time with friends who were not linked to my job responsibilities. I restrained my natural tendencies as an extrovert, and worked hard to stay focused on the requirements of my position.
And yet when I look at the full scope of my career. there is no doubt that the best opportunities have come through my personal relationships. There may have been short term results when I forced myself to stay on task, but much of the really good stuff has come through my friends, and their friends.
And I think that we can always learn new ways to do important things, like networking. Now that I am trying to be even more conscious about building relationships, simply for the joy having a rich circle, I am open to new ideas about how to go about it. In my ezine I shared tips from three accomplished networkers. And if you have favorite practices and techniques I’d love to hear from you as well.
Networking roundup – Here are more tips on networking: