Typically, I look at my LinkedIn notifications once or twice a day.
That day, for some unclear reason, I opened the app as soon as the notice arrived on my desktop. It was a message from someone with whom I was not connected. I generally ignore this type of message, as it is probably from someone trying to sell me something or lure me into a pyramid scheme.
But this time, something seemed different. I did some research. I clicked on the sender’s profile, and it looked legitimate. I then investigated the sender’s employer and found that it, too, seemed to be a real company. So, I replied to the person and discovered that he was looking for someone to help his company complete a task for which they had no internal expertise, but which is an area of strength for me. Over the next few hours, we exchanged emails, and had a phone conversation. I agreed to provide a work product for them and signed a contract for payment at a price point that reflected the level of specialty I could provide to them.
After I got my head to stop spinning from the rapidity with which this happened, I asked the person how he had found me. I thought that perhaps he had searched LinkedIn to locate everyone with my experience doing any type of freelance work.
No. As it turned out, he had obtained my name and a strongly positive recommendation from one of my LinkedIn contacts.
This was not someone with whom I am in daily, weekly, or monthly contact. No, this was someone I have not spoken to for many years and may wish a happy birthday to from time to time. I did not expect this person to be a referral source for my business.
This story exemplifies the REASON to form and nurture your network, NOW. I was kind to this person MANY years ago (at least 15 or 20 years past), and when the opportunity arose, he returned the favor. I did not ASK, nor did I EXPECT anything in return for whatever it was that I helped him with all those many years ago. How many other connections are out there who may think of me when the opportunity arises because I have been there at a time when they needed me? How often have I recommended someone in my network because I know they are trustworthy, skilled in specific areas, and can get a job done? I don’t know the answer to that question because I would never consider keeping track of such a statistic. It is not essential to the growth of your network that you know who does what for whom.
What IS crucial is that YOU nurture YOUR network. You help people when you can do so. You play nicely in the sandbox of life.
My story is also an example of “playing the long game” of life. Although you may “reap what you sow,” you cannot anticipate the reward to come in hours, days, months, or years. As my story exemplifies, the value of your network may only become apparent after DECADES of nurturing. So, I suggest that you take a step back and look at this from afar. What will YOUR network look like in 10 or 15 years?
Some of you may not be easily able to project that far or see the value in doing so. But, I would encourage you to look again.
Zoom out, and see the world as the tiny blue dot that it is when viewed from space. Be kind, be generous, be honest, be empathetic. It comes back in due time, perhaps when you least expect it but need it most.
Take the first step today.
Say "hello" to someone who won't expect to hear from you today. Someone you have known for years, but perhaps don't think about every day. Maybe you feel guilty or embarrassed because it's been so long. You know what? The other person probably feels the same way. Reach out, get reconnected. What's the worst that could happen? They say nothing. Will that send you into a tailspin? I hope not. But be authentic. Don't tell them you really want to check in with them if you really don't. That is all it takes to keep your network viable and working.
What suggestions do you have for keeping your network alive? What are the easiest steps? How has your network helped you? What advice would you offer to others looking to grow and nurture their network?
Thanks for reading. I value your time and am honored you chose to spend the last few minutes reading this post. I hope it provided value for you. If so, I would appreciate it if you would share it with someone who might also find it of value.
To add more value to your life ask yourself this question every day: What choice can I make and action can I take in this moment to create the greatest net value? Then take the free VQ (value quotient) assessment to start your journey with Axiogenics, and learn how to consistently play your "A" game.