“Networking is not about hunting. It’s about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships.”
― Ivan Misner
The Importance Of Networking
Networking is all about building relationships.
Valuing my network as my net worth, I invest time and effort to nourish my current network and to continuously expand my network.
In early 2013, I was working for a start-up biotech company in the San Francisco Bay Area as a process development engineer.
Due to lack of sufficient funding, the company had to cut its monthly cost by reducing the number of employees.
Fortunately, I was one of the few engineers that were retained.
But the first few months came after were torturous because employees were asked to work long hours in hopes to create tangible results to attract new investors and potential buyers.
Initially, I was content with that vision and goal.
But slowly, my motivation slowly faded as I didn’t see any tangible results and achievable goals.
The company was shooting in the dark hoping it would gain a buyer.
Feeling unchallenged and unmotivated, I actively started looking for a new job.
Similar to most job seekers, I used the shotgun strategy by sending cold resumes to different companies.
Although having a few interviews, I didn’t hear back from companies whose job positions that I deeply wanted.
Despite getting a job offer from one company, I had to turn it down because of the limited opportunities for growth and a significant pay cut.
As more months progressed without finding a new job, I experienced more misery at work because of my negative views for the company’s poor vision and leadership.
There were days when I took vacation time just to volunteer at the local animal shelter so I don’t have to go into work.
Feeling desperate, I expanded my job search across the country.
In the process, I also reached out to my existing professional network, including my former manager.
He was and still is one of my respected mentors because of his wide and respectable knowledge in chemical engineering and a person with high integrity.
In addition, we also had many things in common such as sharing the same favorite baseball team, being avid hikers, and believing in work-life balance.
As part of reconnecting to my network, I was vulnerable and told my former manager my situation at work.
That the level of unhappiness and misery is on the edge of forcing me to quit my job without an another job to fall back on.
After hearing my story, he was extremely proud of me because he truly believes life is meant to enjoyed instead of enslaved to work for money.
Although I didn’t quit my job, he told me that if I did, then I would soon find a new job.
Still actively searching for a job, I came across a job posting that was a perfect fit for me.
In this new position, I would learn new skills with some overlap of what I was doing.
Without hesitation, I asked my manager about his thoughts on the job position.
Coincidentally, he was a consultant for that company.
He asked me to send him my résumé so he can send it directly to the hiring manager with his recommendations.
The company, in San Diego, contacted me the next day to determine a date for an in-person interview.
After flying me down for the interview and asking for references the same day, the company offered me the job and agreed to pay for all my moving expenses.
That’s when I discovered the importance of maintaining healthy connections with everyone in my network.
These are the people who know me the best and are willing to put their reputations on the line to help me.
To reciprocate, I must invest time and effort by adding value to them.
Valuing my network as net worth, I want to further deepen my existing connections and to make new ones.
Because I trust the power and strong connection that I have with my connections, I saw their successes as my own.
The Power Of Your Network
Trusting my former manager’s judgment and recommendation, my colleagues didn’t hesitate in giving me the opportunity for an interview.
After I was hired, one of my colleagues even told me that interviewing me was unnecessary because he fully trusted my former manager’s referral.
Referred me to the job, my former manager also put his reputation on the line.
But knowing about my work ethics and previous professional achievements, my former manager had no problems referring me for the job.
It was a win-win situation for me, my former manager, and the company.
I got the job, my former manager strengthened his reputation and credibility in the professional space, and the company can now achieve their goals and milestones faster with my help.
Add Value To Your Network
Everyone in your network deserves your attention.
And if they don’t, then they shouldn’t be in your network.
Make it a priority to reach out and reconnect with everyone even though you don’t keep in touch with them regularly.
Put them as reminders in your calendar (monthly, bi-monthly, etc.) so you don’t forget.
They will appreciate you for making the effort and will set you apart from everyone else in their network.
If you want to take this to the next level, then you can send them one of the following items.
- Valuable Content
- This can be online articles, podcasts, videos, or pictures that you think they will enjoy or benefit. This shows thoughtfulness as it requires knowing their interests.
- Handwritten letters
- This shows you that truly care because you took the time to write out a personalized letter. Now not many people still write handwritten letters. This will put you in a whole new category in their hearts.
- This is a great way to reconnect with them because it allows them to see and hear you, especially if they haven’t seen you in quite some time. Strive to keep the videos short and succinct. State clearly in your email the duration of your video so they know in advance.
- This shows that even though you’re traveling, you still keep them in mind and have a special place in your heart. Write a short note on the postcard similar to that of a handwritten letter.
- Unique Gifts/Souvenirs
- Buying gifts that others want is difficult to do because it requires a great understanding of the other person. But if you can buy something that they enjoy, then it shows that you know them quite well. The mere fact that you put thought into buying the gift is what counts.
Grow and Expand Your Network
Networking is a skill that you do for the rest of your life.
Everywhere you go is an opportunity to build relationships.
Places include your local coffee shop, grocery store, or the gym.
Take charge, initiate and lead the conversation by adding value to them.
It can simple as smiling and asking them about their day.
Arm yourself with the fundamentals of social dynamics to create meaningful connections with others.
Planes, trains, and buses are some places that I have met people who I still have deep and meaningful connections with.
Throughout the years, I have met many others through those connections.
In addition, I have also created many enjoyable and lasting experiences and memories with the help of those connections.
No matter where you go, have an open mind and engage with others.
You just never know who you’ll meet and the level of impact that they’ll have in your life.
After you have created rapport with them, ask for their contact information so you can follow up with them.
To determine if they belong to your network, invite them to your events as the filtering process.
Over time, you’ll grow a network of people whose relationships you value and vice versa.
Your network is all the relationships that you have with others.
Are they strong so that you can reach out and ask for help in times of need?
Have you added value to them in the past?
Do you genuinely care about them?
Don’t expect others to help when you haven’t added value to them in the past.
Learn to dig the well before you’re thirsty.
People want to help those who they like.
This means values that they may have received in the past.
Subconsciously, people keep track of those who have helped them in their lives.
However, there are people who take advantage and don’t give back.
Understand that those people do exist and it’s part of the filtering process.
It’s up to you recognize those “takers” and not to keep them in your network.
Focus your time and effort on those who do value your relationship because it must be mutual.
While deepening your existing network, continue to expand your network by creating new connections everywhere you go.
Endless opportunities are everywhere and it’s up to you to create them.
Your dream woman, job, client, or business partner is always just one connection away.
You’ll never know when and where you’ll meet that one person who will change your life forever.
Now go out, socialize, and connect.
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it valuable.
If you have any questions and/or comments on expanding your network, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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