Porter Gale coined the phrase Your Network is Your Net Worth as the title (and concept) for her recently published book on the benefits and process of building your network. According to Ms. Gale, your “social capital” is your “ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships.” She advised that your social capital can be considered the most valuable asset in your career portfolio. Basically, when you cultivate a mindset that seeks to collaborate with others of similar values and goals, you will create a sturdy foundation on which to build your future success. The actual “net worth” of your network is not based on the size of it, but rather on your own ability “to define and stay true to your passions and values” as you work with others. The main goal of the network is to surround yourself with people who can provide that “interpersonal safety net” that will help you weather various issues as you work to achieve your dreams. This article will address several factors pertaining to Ms. Gale’s theories on networking.
Make the Most of Your Social Media Contacts
It is important to focus on your social media contacts. The main goal when you begin the process of increasing your network’s net worth is to weed out the unnecessary relationships. Increasing your net worth is not based on how many connections you have, but rather on how symbiotic they are. Before randomly connecting with everyone on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, make sure that there is a reason for you to connect. For example, if you’re in marketing, connect with other professionals who offer training in your field. Additionally, you can connect with individuals who have similar interests of connecting with others to increase their network’s net worth. Continually select your professional connections online with a specific strategy in mind and you will begin to increase your network’s net worth.
Implement a Specific Relational Strategy
As you work to increase your network’s net worth, you need to find ways to implement a specific relational strategy. The first step is to dissect the basic relational differences between men and women. For example, men generally network with the end result in mind as if they were making a business transaction. Women, on the other hand, network more for relational reasons. Now, both of these reasons are extremes. It is vital that you mesh the positive factors of both extremes into one cohesive blend that forms your relational networking strategy. Your main goal in building your network’s net worth quickly is to cultivate strong relationships that are symbiotic to the growth of your career ambitions.
Network With a “Plan B” in Mind
Proactive networking is necessary if you want to quickly develop your network in order to achieve maximum success with regard to accomplishing your goals. However, that process includes having a “Plan B” in mind. For example, you never know when you may lose your job or need to find new employment. This secondary plan can only be implemented if you have been proactively networking in the first place. When crisis situations (such as job loss) occur, you need to have an active network to contact. If you haven’t been strategically cultivating your network, you won’t have anyone else to rely on. A true networker knows that networking is never done. It needs to occur on a continual basis in order for you to achieve great success.
Cultivate a Network of Diversity
In addition to having a “Plan B”, you need to ensure that your “Plan A” includes cultivating a network of diversity. For example, many times we only associate with people who are like us and with whom we get along, like a friend. However, when trying to quickly increase your network’s net worth, you must cultivate a diverse network that includes professional individuals who are different than you. Basically, it is all about connecting with people who can help your career advance, and you then offer the same thing in return to them. If you are an entry-level or mid-level employee, the likelihood of you connecting with a VP or CEO is low. Yet, that is exactly what you need to do in order to create a diverse network. Surround yourself with successful people so that you increase your chances of achieving success.
Foster the Current Relationships in Your Network
Of course, you need to continually be seeking to connect with new professionals to quickly increase your network. However, neglecting those individuals who are already part of your network could make your entire framework fall apart at the seams. For example, cultivate the existing relationships that you have with your former college classmates, as well as any former colleagues. One key reason to stay in contact with these individuals is that they already know you and can vouch for your skillsets and work experience. You do not need to start at ground zero with them as you would with any new contacts that you connect with.
Develop Genuine Symbiotic Professional Relationships
Your network should not consist of “fluff” contacts and connections. Every professional relationship should be based upon the idea of true networking—developing a genuine symbiotic relationship. The individuals that you connect with need to know that you want to help them just as much as they want to help you. Those people, who are only out for their own good, will never build a strong foundation in their network. Their network may grow fast. However, it will crumble just as quickly because it is not based upon a genuine symbiotic mindset. In order to build your network fast (and strong) you need to identify the specific professionals who have the clout and authority in your field to create opportunities for your career. Conversely, you must offer whatever assistance you can to those who seek out your help.
Make Effective Networking a Daily Commitment
Finally, this process will only work effectively if you make a decision to commit to daily networking. Of course, you won’t focus one hundred percent of your day to networking. However, you need to find a balance in learning how to see every moment as an opportunity to network. For example, simply being nice to everyone you meet is a part of networking. Cultivating positive relationships with your colleagues is another vital step. Then you need to add the online networking, as well as in-person networking—through networking mixers and personal meetings—to your week.
What steps have you taken to increase your network’s net worth and quickly build your contact base?