Almost every success you have in life and business is because the right person is in your network. The things you don’t get to do? Yep. You didn’t know the right person that could make things happen. Everything is related to networking.
I jotted this random thought down in my book of networking notes (for a future book) while waiting for yet another flight, in another airport. In tow, a surly teenage son who looked over my shoulder and replied in his most snarky manner, “I just drank a bottle of water. What’s that got to do with networking?” I smiled sweetly at my offspring and replied, “You better know someone with a bathroom in about an hour.”
Your network is everywhere. Your network is your face-to-face relationships. Your social media friends. Your virtual connections. Your network is people you speak to every day and those you've never even met. Any person you communicate with can immediately become part of your network. It could be a LinkedIn interaction, or it could be a customer service call—one coming into your business or an outgoing call you make. It could be a cold call from a potential client or the call you make to set up an appointment. Anytime two human beings communicate, there is the potential of joining each other’s network.
The most successful people in the world realize that the more diverse their network, the more powerful it becomes.
The most successful people in the world realize that the more diverse their network, the more powerful it becomes. They know that the next big idea could come from an Uber driver or that their most coveted connection might be related to the office building barista. They know it pays to listen, ask questions, and share their own expertise.
I’ve spent the last three years traveling the journey of Alzheimer’s with my mother. In the beginning, I used Facebook to let friends and family in my tight network know about the diagnosis—I did not want to say, “Mom has Alzheimer’s,” over and over again. My heart and soul could not take it.
As time went on, I used Facebook to talk more about the disease. I was able to become more candid with my audience and tied my observations with my dark sense of humor. It was a necessary coping mechanism. But then something unexpected happened: friends began to share my stories and responded with ones of their own. As this insidious disease progressed, I found my network of several hundred friends on Facebook had grown to thousands of people I haven't (and probably will never) meet. Yet this network was there for me every day—with suggestions, comments, support, and yes, even love for a stranger they had never met.
That’s what networks do. That’s the point of networking.
The larger your true network, the more opportunities come your way. The more ideas. The more answers. And of course, a larger network. Your network is everything. Mine got me through two difficult periods—a teenager and Mom’s Alzheimer’s.
The relationship you have with your network needs to be a reciprocal one. If there is too much 'take,' the network won't be so willing to 'give.' Do things for your network. Deliver the things you promise. Be proactive and introduce people and opportunities. Follow-through. Be relevant and honest. Be helpful. Be interested in each person and in their success.
Imagine what your network, even the invisible one, will do for you if you give them a chance. Harness the power of networking; harness the power of your network.
Dayna Steele is the creator and CEO of YourDailySuccessTip.com, a popular keynote speaker, and a rock radio hall of famer. Her book, Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine (A caregiver’s guide to love, humor, patience, confusion, anger, and wine) is coming in March 2016. Find Dayna on Twitter: @daynasteele.