Everyone says that you have to use your network, and let me tell you, it’s true.
If you’re starting out in a new business, sure having a strong network can help you grow your client base. But I think a great network – one filled with people who not only view you as a competent professional, but as a good person – can be so much more than a roster of names to help you get ahead.
Maybe I’m lucky, but I’ve been blessed over the last week with people reaching out to send freelance work my way. (Before you get jealous, it’s not exactly overflowing, but it’s one heck of a start!). I’ve been blown away by the responses of people in my professional network, and I’m thankful for the business that’s been sent m way.
In my experience, a strong network is not something that can be cultivated overnight or over drinks at a happy hour, although those certainly help. In order to create a network of individuals who will be willing to stake their own reputations on your performance, you have to do a lot more than just be nice, popular or outgoing. You have to be the person you are, and you have to spend time with people who can appreciate that.
I’m partial to true friends, true connections and true acts of generosity and selflessness. Technology has brought us a long way in casting a wide net of connections, but how do we really connect with them?
Perhaps I’m in the minority, but unless I’ve met you in person, I’m not adding you as a friend or connection on social networks. I think people take for granted these limitless systems; in reality, none of us are capable of managing 700+ friendships and 500+ professional connections on any real level.
It takes time to build those bridges. Attempting to foster superficial connections can only bring those bridges crumbling down.