In the marketing world, we talk about networking… a lot. We go to luncheons, happy hours, conferences and trade shows to “network”. We maintain a presence in various social media channels to build and strengthen our networks. The hope is that by increasing the size of one’s network, we improve the chances of getting more business through referrals. Does this really work, though? Is it worth your time and effort to actively build a personal network? Definitely.
I recently found myself unemployed (well, under-employed might be a better description). Being a seasoned marketer, I decided the best thing I could do would be to get the word out that I am actively looking for a job – both as a full-time, salaried marketing executive as well as project work for B2design. I wrote a simple blog post about my situation, published it on my LinkedIn profile and shared it on Facebook. My hope was to spread the word to my network quickly. I had no idea how powerful this could be, though!
For a solid week, my phone has been blowing up! Seriously. Within minutes of clicking Publish, I began receiving a barrage of texts, emails, comments and “likes”. Apparently, the focused efforts I have put into connecting with people both here in Oklahoma City as well as across the country is coming back to me now. And it’s not just words of encouragement (which are wonderful, BTW!). I’m also getting leads on job opportunities as well as projects ranging from social media campaigns to graphic design work to blogging opportunities. It is an absolutely amazing experience.
All this activity. It’s straight from my network. What does that mean, though? “Network” just kind of seems like a buzz word. What is a network, really? Well, I went to Merriam-Webster for this one:
“A group of people or organizations that are closely connected and that work with each other.” Well, that about nails it. So how do you go about creating a network that will go to work for you?
My network has evolved from a multitude of authentic interactions. These are people with whom I want to be connected, they aren’t just notches on my MacBook. I have connected with friends, business associates, clients, prospects, thought leaders, great speakers, featured writers and people who I just thought seemed cool because of a blog post or an article they shared on LinkedIn. It has never been about what any one of them could do for me.
Sure, I have learned a great deal from my connections… and I have received business referrals and recommendations from my network, but I contribute, too. A lot. In fact, I give much more than I ask in return, and that is why my network has stepped up to support me in my time of need. These folks are happy to offer a helping hand to a hard working member of their networks.
There is great power within a strong network, but that’s the thing… It takes work (it’s not called a “neteasy”, after all!). By putting in the work, though, you receive the benefit when you need it most, and this is the power of a network.