Your Network is Key to Your Success

10012587_sOpportunity doesn’t come from hard work, going to the right school or having the right resume.  Opportunity comes from other people.

You might have the education or skills that make you qualified for a great job or equipped to help a client, but the only way to truly access that opportunity is through someone else.  Whomever that person is, he or she has to feel like they know and trust you in order to give you the chance to succeed.

This is important to remember, because many of us feel like if we work hard enough someone will notice and opportunity will come on it’s own accord – not true.  It takes positive interactions with others – building relationships..

If you are reluctant to reach out and connect with people you know, whether personal friends or colleagues, you are putting yourself and career at a disadvantage.   Want to gain the advantage?  Follow this advice to build your personal network:

1. Reach out.

Most everyone seeks acknowledgement.  Why do you think Facebook and LinkedIn are so successful?  They provide opportunities for people to be seen and heard.  For example, yesterday was my birthday, and I started getting FB birthday wishes on Monday.  It made me feel great. Facebook leverages people’s desire to be acknowledge by promoting their posts.

It’s human nature, we all want to be seen.  When you reach out and tell someone you are thinking of them, you have a captive audience.  Of course, it helps if you are genuine and truly have something to say, but they’ll be interested if you want nothing more to see how they are doing.

2. Express interest in helping others.

Along with reaching out, you have to be interested in them and their needs.  Be curious, ask questions and genuinely offer assistance.  It’s what we do naturally in most of our friendships.

Why should the give and take be different for colleagues and people we are getting to know better? There’s nothing shifty about being interested and developing a relationship, unless you’re not genuinely interested in the person.

3. Find out how they function. 

Be curious about what they do and how they do it.  We spend most of our days on automatic pilot.  We think and do the same things over and over again.  Reaching out to new and different people helps us to become aware of different ways to reach our goals.  This can also open doors to new opportunities.

4. Learn to give and take. 

Overall, people like to help each other. Don’t hesitate to ask for what you need.  The key is creating a balance of give and take. Whether it’s providing acknowledgement, advice or active support, make sure that you are doing your part in nurturing the relationship, and this will most often be to your benefit as well. Reciprocal relationships are truly a win/win.

Don’t shy away from developing your network.  The people you know and the relationships you develop are the best way to sustained success.

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