How to become your network's greatest asset.
It's no secret that in today's economy the use of professional networks has become the catalysis for obtaining and retaining employment opportunities. The old saying of "it's not what you know, but who you know" rings anew as the prevailing theme for professionals that understand the validity and power of networking. Many Americans over the last decade, (including yours truly) experienced career displacement through layoffs and cooperate entities collapsing. We've applied for position after position to finally have success in landing a new employment through a connection in our network.
I'm sure many are as thankful as I am for those connections that led to new employment, but in the midst of my personal gratefulness ... I began to think ... how can I take that mantra of relying on others in my network; and in turn, become the best asset for my network? Sure, my network was strong enough to connect me to a new job ... but honestly, should that be enough? Should a network be solely about the purpose of obtaining and retaining employment opportunities OR can it be something greater?
Let's consider this: a network should be seen as an investment ... not only in yourself, but also in the lives of those that make up your network as well. Your network is only as strong as you and the persons who co-exist in it.
So imagine if you took the time to invest in the lives of those in your network. Invest in their careers, invest in their dreams and aspirations, invest in their talents. Imagine how much stronger your network would be, imagine the potential that could exist, imagine the better you would be for it.
So then the question becomes, how can we cultivate relationships within out network that may be the catalysis for a greater change? I recommend trying the following three actions for investing in your network:
Take time to communicate with the persons that make up your network on a regular basis ... those that are in your personal circle and those connections though social media groups like LinkedIn. Take time to ask what are their individual goals and their professional aspirations and then figure out how your talents can be an asset to them. Asking these things set a precedent within your network and shows to them that you care and are invested in their success.
Take time to share your talents or share knowledge that will help existing persons grow in your network. Our talents are a gift ... why not treat it as such and use them as a gift for others? Donate your talents or skills to aid someone in their quest in a start-up business or a non-profit organization. Mentor persons that are in the same field as you. Share knowledge that may be useful to members of your network. LinkedIn is a very good resource for sharing information pertaining to careers ... an action as simple as sharing an article pertaining to a career with your network can go a long way in increasing the knowledge and strength of members in your network.
Take time to continue to grow your network, especially for the benefit of those that are a part of your network. As an example, if you are in the field of marketing but some of your network members are in the medical field ... take time to add other persons from the medical field to your network as well. This will not only extra validity to you being an asset to your network, it will help foster growth within you network members as well.
In putting these three things into action, we make a sound investment in the lives of those who have and will continue to be a great investment to our lives as well.
So ask not what your network can do for you, but ask what you can do for your network ...
and see how we are ALL the better for it.