I often speak and teach about a simple axiom that is becoming more supported as we recover and attempt to live with this virus. Your network equals your net worth. I hear every excuse in the book for avoiding networking. I don’t have time for networking events. I don’t like to network. And worse, I don’t need to network. Insert strong word here…!$%&%*.
Whether you find networking appealing or not, nothing is more precious for continued success in your career; no matter what business or industry. Blue collar, white collar, gray collar; it doesn’t matter the occupation. The most valuable reality for maintaining career success is who knows you. It is not who you know. CEOs can be terminated at fifty years old. Recent college graduates can be terminated at twenty-three years old. Not networking is like being stranded on a deserted island and refusing to drink fresh water because you don’t like the taste. Whether you enjoy it or not, networking is a career imperative.
I am working diligently to inform my followers about the lessons we can gain from this once in a lifetime experience. No matter what we face, there is always opportunity to be earned for someone willing to learn. We can complain about reality or look for ways to adapt and thrive. Thriving, I have discovered, accompanies those who have a healthy network of people who know them.
The problem facing too many people is obscurity. It contributes to your length of unemployment. It is reason people are not coming to your business. Obscurity is the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant. This state of reality applies to you as an individual as well as your business or occupation. If you are a tree trimmer, you are not likely to be called if people do not know you exist. Likewise, you are not likely to be helped if others do not know you. Zig Ziglar said you can have everything you want in life if you will just help enough people get what they want. Networking is not just collecting contacts. Networking is about building relationships. It is the number one, unwritten rule for success in business and life, period!
Someone reading this has recently lost a job unexpectedly. You did not see this coming. You planned to retire from that job. Or, at least you thought you did. How many people know you well enough to help you? It is an important question. The fastest connection to the next job is through your network. I recently coached a CEO who lost his job unexpectedly after twenty-four years with the company. The reason is unimportant. While helping him process this loss, we discovered that he had become lazy when it came to networking. He knew in the back of his mind (he is a brilliant person) that networking was important; however the routine of life and work prevented it from being urgent. He had neglected many networking opportunities, including LinkedIn. One day over lunch, he said to me, I will never be in this position again. In a moment of clarity, networking became urgent. He is likely to read this. Well, are you?
Finding a sense of urgency for networking requires a complete change of life. Defaulting to yes for networking events is not as easy as flipping a switch. It is a commitment equal to eating healthy or exercising. Finding connections on platforms such as LinkedIn is not the solution. You must cultivate connections physically and digitally, constantly. There is academic research for this logic.
I start the day each morning with a positive or inspirational quote on LinkedIn. In behavioral psychology, each daily post creates the “halo effect” for me among my connections. The halo effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about their character. Our overall impression of a person ("He is nice!") impacts our perception of that person's specific traits ("He is also smart!"). It is part of my morning routine. It is a habit. It is my positive contribution to the thoughtmoshere and people appreciate it.
You need not mirror my routine; however you must create and maintain your own routine. Brian Tracy said we must emphasize giving in our relationships. I keep hundreds of books in my office. When I feel the urge, I will sign a book and send it to someone in my network unexpectedly. Why? It is a kind gesture; however it also creates something psychological for the recipient. The Law of Reciprocity says that when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. As a matter of fact, you may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than their original good deed. Mother Teresa said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving”.
Think of networking as an enrichment program, not an entitlement program. The more you enrich the lives of others, the more you are rewarded. Doing well for others before they do well for you is an ideological way to live and it will pay you back over and over in life. Throughout history, human life has been rewarded more by networking than war.
“Everyone who gets involved in networking begins on a level playing field. As you help lift others to higher levels, the industry rewards you. It is inspiring indeed.” -Stephen Covey
The pandemic essentially zeroed out my training business for almost ninety days. Almost everything cancelled indefinitely. It was hard to watch. Once the stunning reality subsided, I realized the potential of my network. I increased my giving to the network ten-fold. That’s right, I 10Xed! You are welcome Grant Cardone. Guess what? My business is now recovering faster than I ever imagined. My projections for recovery were far more conservative than I realized. My precious network is coming through when I need it, thankfully.
This is your takeaway. If you lost economically during this pandemic, commit to networking. If you didn’t lose economically, commit to networking. There will be a time when you need help economically and your anemic, frail, bony network will be your own fault. Multiply the giving to your network ten-fold. Behind every successful person, there are many successful relationships. Work on those relationships and life will reward you beyond belief. The wealthiest people on the planet look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work. Someone smart said the opposite of networking is NOT working. Let that soak in!