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Where were you in 1994? Jeff Bezos founded Amazon. Me? I had a baby that year and was working in Caracas. I didn’t even have an email address until 1995. Twenty-three years later, he’s one of the top billionaires in the world. While Amazon is clearly a tech company, however, the business was built on this old-school premise:
Focus on the things that don’t change.
What doesn’t change?
What does not change is the fact that professional success, whether as a business owner or corporate leader, is built on strong personal relationships.
Your future as a thought leader develops off the people in your circle of influence, aka your “network”.
Yep! Your net worth derives from your network.
It’s SO true and always will be. Business and careers are based on personal relationships. Through people you get referrals, letters of recommendation, insider information about companies, leaders, and trends, plus any sort of vendor from purveyors of office space to acupuncturists.
Personal networks are so powerful they seem supernatural to me. Truly miraculous. How cool is it to be meeting people who are out there changing the world and find out that you can actually help them with very little effort? For example, you can introduce two business friends that actually change someone’s career or makes $$.
It’s weird how it works.
Exclusively through word of mouth, Mixonian Institute grew 400% in 2016. But you don’t need to have your own business to benefit from a strong, supportive network. Your network is your safety net, your mastermind, your friends who can help. It’s also a group of friends who can turn to you for help.
Personal networks make up their own asset class. But you don’t find personal network calculators on any retirement planning websites that I’ve seen.
What is social capital?
Social capital is your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships.
It’s not only a matter of meeting people. It’s about keeping up with the people you know and getting to know their friends.
Your business friends want you to succeed and want to help you. You also enjoy seeing their progress.
These are the people that support you, and you support through change.
The thing is, it takes time and energy to nurture your network. Think about how much time you spend actually doing the work you get paid for and building up your mission as a thought leader.
It is so easy to get caught up in the work that shows up on our desks. It takes the wretched D-word (discipline) to carve out time to touch base with your network friends and get to know new ones.
Ways to Nurture Your Network
: Invite people over.
: Invite people to events you are attending.
: Randomly touch base.
: Introduce your friends to each other. (In person or via email.)
: When you travel, try to meet up with your friends who live nearby.
Brand storyteller from Virginia, Louise Pritchard, was in town recently and put out the invitation for alums of The Southern C to get together. That was fun and I came away knowing everyone who came, at a deeper level.
And here’s a cool suggestion from Spawar’s HR queen, Jee Youn Fickling:
: Plan monthly dinners to carve out time to connect. Conversation over food make for genuine moments.
If you want help with actual networking conversations, read Imaginative Networking.
In The Startup of You, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman writes “strengthen your professional network by building powerful alliances and maintaining a diverse mix of relationships” and “tap your network for information and intelligence that help you make smarter decisions.”
In other words, keep in touch and take care of your friends. Your net worth derives from your network.
AND….if you’re an introvert, you can TOTALLY excel at building strong business relationships. That’s because introverts CRAVE DEEP and MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS. We don’t “work” the room, we tend to talk to fewer people but like them more. (See Introverts Better Networkers?)
Networking is all about connecting with people. Connection with people is what leads to a happy and meaningful life.