A Network Takes Work
Your network is the foundation on which you build your dreams. I can say this without a flinch in my delivery. I can say with certainty that my network and the amazing teachers and leaders in it have opened my world to so much possibility. Every new job, every dream come true has been a result of my tribe. If I had to keep only one skill in my tool box moving forward, it would be my ability to build, maintain and leverage a network.
Most people believe that only the outgoing can build a great network because people are intertwining socializing with networking. It is true that to build a network, one must be capable of human interaction. However, it is a myth that building a network requires you to be an extravert or the life of the party. Networking is not about big crowds of people or happy hours. It’s also not about having a large group of friends. Networking is about having people in your life that can teach you new skills, who inspire you to be better and who can help you grow into your goals.
It will feel weird to do what I am going to suggest here but I promise, it will be helpful in building your network. Building a network will never happen by accident. I consider my network my greatest asset and just like any asset, it takes time, hard work and intention to create it. Here’s how I suggest you start or continue to build you network.
Write down three skills or areas of business you want to learn so that you can achieve your long-term goals.
Write down the name of six people that you know or know of that can help you learn the skills you wrote down in step one.
Send emails to those six people, introducing yourself and share with them that you would like to have coffee to learn more about what they do.
Be very clear about your own skills and what you bring to the relationship as well.
Ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for their assistance in teaching you, making introductions for you or simply sharing lessons learned.
This is going to feel scary but let me provide a little comfort and encouragement. Every person who has ever reached out to me, whether I know them or not, I have answered. I am honored to share anything I know with whomever wants to know it and I have so many people in my life today that are there because they decided to ask me for coffee. Here’s is the thing about people, we like to talk about ourselves, we like to share what we have learned and even those of us with the seemingly richest networks, always seek to grow it. It’s important to bring intention into your time spent with others. I am in no way providing advice that you should be opportunistic or inauthentic in having people in your life. Rather, I am recommending that with the scarcity of the hours you have, you be intentional about letting others into those hours. Realize that friendships can be simultaneous with network and they can also be mutually exclusive. A network requires work and mutual learning. A network should be the group of people that understand your goals, believe in your goals and will do what they can to help you achieve them. Use this article to propel yourself forward into reaching out to people that you can learn from. Spark the flame and see how rich your network will become.