“First you have to be visible in the community. You have to get out there and connect with people. It’s not called net-sitting or net-eating, it’s called NETWORKING. You have to work at it.” – Dr. Ivan Misner
What could you accomplish if you just knew the right people? There is a prevailing theory of human relationships referred to as 6 Degrees of Separation. The premise is that the world is so small that we are actually only 6 people removed from anybody, anywhere in the world. This means that I could connect with anybody on the globe, provided I identify the correct 6 people.
Now, you may say that you don’t know anybody – at least no one of significance, but the power of the theory is that you don’t know who your acquaintances might know. Whether professionally or personally, it is imperative that you recognize your most valued resource is surrounding you every day of your life – the people you already know!
I’ve seen this theory play out in my own life. I had always wanted to meet Nelson Mandela. I had admired him for years but being in America and out of politics, the likelihood of our meeting seemed impossible at best. However, once a job opportunity moved me to South Africa, the ‘impossible’ began to move into the realm of the ‘possible.’ I was excited just knowing that I was on the same continent as the man! I told everybody I met that I was not leaving the country without first meeting Nelson Mandela. Little did I know that the couple who were hosting me, knew him personally! Within two months of my arrival in Johannesburg, I was shaking Mandiba’s hand!
Networking is the basis of your ‘social capital.’ Just as important as money, social capital is leveraging your strategic alliances to facilitate access to information opportunities, cooperation, mutual support and power. It’s not just about who you know, but who knows you and if you know where to go for answers!
Forget that outdated mode of networking that conjures up awkward images of the insincere, brown-nosing, schmooze-fest over cocktails. It’s time to accept networking for what it is – reaching out to make an authentic, dignified connection. It can happen at the grocery store, on an airplane, around the water cooler at work or even at social and business events. Wherever there’s a crowd, there’s an opportunity to connect.
I am going to pause here, for a moment to swallow a bit of my own medicine. In the past month I must have logged over 20,000 air miles flying back and forth across the country for business meetings, conferences and networking events. As empowering as it was to immerse myself in all that data and information, the true goldmine was all the new people I’ve been able to meet…yes, that means many of you! The depth and breadth of influence and expertise that has enveloped me is staggering and I am eternally blessed, grateful and appreciative to count you and these new associations among my circle of friends and colleagues.
While not always easy, genuine networking is essential for success. Randall Collins of the University of Pennsylvania was cited in the Harvard Business Review for showing that breakthroughs from icons such as Freud, Picasso, Watson, Crick, and Pythagoras were all the consequence of a particular type of personal network that promoted exceptional individual creativity.
To assess the effectiveness and influence of your network, you must constantly ask yourself these questions:
- Who am I around?
- What are they doing to me?
- What have they got me reading?
- What have they got me saying?
- Where do they have me going?
- What do they have me doing?
- What do they have me thinking?
- What do they have me becoming?
Then ask yourself the BIG question, “Is that okay?”
Whether as social media or the personal face-to-face form, networking is both a professional and a personal skill that has become a fundamental part of the modern landscape. As you work to expand your network, remember it is more about relationships than business cards. At the end of the day, networking is an attitude, not an event.
BIG QUESTION: Who would you love to have in your network? Please post a comment, I would love to hear your perspective!
As a Personal Success Strategist, I teach passionately about being awesomely ageless, owning the power of your potential, redefining & reimagining life on your own terms, and making an indelible mark in your destiny through every season of life. For ideas on how to grow your network, increase your business or expand your social media presence, contact me for a FREE 30-minute Discovery Call to determine if you could benefit from my professional services.
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