Work your network!

OK, it’s time for a bit of a rant – please bear with me.

One thing that I’m continually surprised at is how close the connections are among people. The whole six degrees of separation (between any two people) rarely seems to be that many degrees. Especially when it comes to industries like marketing or community or interactive. How many times have you dug even a little deep and found that you used to work with someone or hang out with someone who is now suddenly a current connection? Hell, look at the success of LinkedIn and browse your own network sometime to discover how many great contacts you have at your fingertips.

To me, there’s nothing better in the world than having a friend or colleague say "Boy, I sure wish I knew someone at X company", and being able to respond "Actually, let me hook you up with my friend Jimmy".

So why is it then that so many  chances for networking are thrown out the window because you’re too busy or don’t see the benefit.

I guess I can understand the thinking, although I can’t agree with it.

If you’re a small business person, you are simply overwhelmed and don’t have the time to do much networking. When an opportunity, no matter how good comes up, you probably end up thinking that you have more important things to do, like the current active project. But how are you ever going to get to the point where you’re not worrying about where to get the next project if you don’t take a few minutes to connect with people and opportunities that might help take you to the next level? I don’t know many times I’ve seen BIG opportunities get turned down by small biz people because they "can’t see how it would help me". The reality is that EVERY connection can help you – the bigger the connection, the bigger possibility for help. You may not see it today, but it WILL pay off.

And people working in big companies tend to think "why bother? I have a steady job, and I’m not looking to change jobs". Fine, but a) how long are you positive you’ll have that job, and b) why would you turn down opportunities that may help you do better in that steady job – thus increasing your chances of keeping said job? I’m always surprised how many times a day I think "oh man, I should get some feedback/help/input from that guy I know who is an expert on X subject".

It’s amazing how many people just toss these opportunities out the window. Honestly, I don’t think that it’s a lack of interest or laziness. I truly believe that it’s just simple shortsightedness – a fundamental lack of understanding about how networks can benefit a person. I’m not sure if they teach these things in business school, but if not, they should.

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