I don?t have to convince you of the power of a professional network, do I? One that is not only inside your current company but that reaches outside of its walls? Or that networking is often listed as one of the most important unwritten rules of success in business? And that research shows that your next business opportunity (and often, job) is more likely to come from a loose connection in your network than from a friend or close colleague?
But networks are like any good investment. The great ones can have an extremely high ROI (return on investment)?. but not right away, and often not from the sources that one might expect.
I only have two simple rules of networking:
1) I try to meet at least one new person in my area of interest every month, or significantly deepen an existing relationship.
2) I do something nice for someone in my network every week.
This second doesn?t have to be a big find-someone-a-job favor, but instead can be connecting two people who should know each other, sharing research or information that someone you know may find useful, or posting a LinkedIn recommendation on a colleague.
These likely won?t find you a new job or get you a big deal next week. (I almost don?t know how to reply to the email sitting in my in-tray from someone who says that she keeps trying to sell things to new people in her network, but some of them won?t buy?.or reply.) But over time, these two very simple rules are small seeds that you plant, any one of which can one day provide a strong return. And in the meantime, they'll give you a lot of joy.
(Photo: Flickr, Michael Heiss)