Just like a garden, it takes time, care and love to build a strong network. It also takes self-awareness, integrity and thoughtfulness.
Your network is one of the most valuable assets you will ever cultivate in business. With time and attention, you will reap the rewards both personally and professionally. Fail to recognize the importance of honoring each connection and your garden just may dry up, wither away and leave you with a pile of dirt. However, the goal is a thriving network that blooms and flourishes, so let’s go on a little journey…
Success in life and business is about making connections.
Whether you knew it or not, your network started growing when you were a child. You had classmates, teammates, teachers, friends, family members of friends, and so on who became a part of your network of contacts.
As I watch my own children manage the field of friendships in elementary and junior high school, they definitely have their ups and downs. Some children are simply raised with values and standards (and manners) that are different from those that my children are being raised with. My husband and I teach our kids that they need to honor and respect all of their peers while maintaining their values and beliefs about what is important in life. With all of the connections that I have made throughout my life and now on social media, I find that I have to remind myself of this too.
We don’t have to be friends with everyone, but we need to be friendly.
As I near the age of 40, it’s funny how often the kids that I went to school or camp with in my younger years come back through my life as an adult. Again, this is something that I share with my kids.
It’s important to be a team player no matter how old you are because you never know who may be a pivotal decision maker for you in the future. If you always take the high road when it comes to your network, you will know that you have tried your hardest to be the best person that you could throughout your life. Who knows… maybe some of the kids that were in your class in grammar school are now executives and decision makers that could help your clients or you to make the next big leap in business.
You never know who will pop up in your network when you need them.
Here’s another story of random people in your network that come back into your life when you least expect it. The real estate agent that helped us buy our home in Southern California was a classmate of mine in San Francisco in fourth and fifth grades. We weren’t close friends in grade school, but my husband happened to strike up a conversation with her after she sold a house down the street from where we were living. We didn’t know who she was, but after a few minutes of chatting, we realized that we had been classmates. Before long, we were looking at a few homes with her, talking about people we know in common and getting our families together. We are now good friends who pass along leads and grab lunch when we can. We’ve got a house that we love (thanks to her giving us amazing service) and she got the commission from the transaction of our home and the recent sale of my dad’s house!
No matter what kind of business you are in now or in the future, your network is an asset. Whether it performs or not is up to you…
Enter Porter Gale, author of the book Your Network is Your Net Worth who says, “A key to unlocking the hidden power of connections is helping others when you don’t expect anything in return.” She encourages readers to:- Practice a random daily give
- Don’t expect anything in return
- Support your community, workplace and non-profits you believe in
- Recognize the power of mentoring
- Remember the phrase “How can I help?”
These tips from Porter are a great reminder that growing your network is a multifaceted endeavor that encompasses many moving parts. Building a powerful network is not as much about creating a pool of people who can do things for you as it is about creating a resource of support for you and everyone involved.
Just as with the garden, if you want abundant fruit that nourishes and enriches your life, you must give plenty of your time, love and attention to your network. But the real question is… are you?