Is your network helping you? When is the last time you took a good look at your network—an analytical type of look—and asked yourself if those relationships were adding value to your job or overall career? While it might be fun to hang out with like-minded folks on Facebook, that’s not always the best thing for your job network. The good thing is that you don’t have to choose; it’s not "Career OR Job OR Network." It’s really “Career AND Job AND Network.”
In other words, the principle is this --the more varied your network, the more valuable it is.
If it’s filled with like-minded people, it’s like “preaching to the choir”—the people who are already converted and don’t really need to hear each other’s sermons. However, if your network is filled with people who have different backgrounds, work experiences, perspectives on issues that are important in your industry—those people will challenge you, help you grow, and give you new perspectives that help enrich your own work, decision-making and experience.
People in your network who are different from you are also likely to be connected with other different people. This means that each of those points in your network is a doorway into another world, full of people that also have the potential to help you learn, grow, make new connections and expand the world of your career beyond your particular role. When you make new connections in those different spheres, you change your routine ways of thinking and acting, opening yourself up to new—and perhaps better—ways of approaching your work, and even your life. It’s also those people who are more likely to provide the connections you need when it’s time to take the next step on your career ladder and move beyond your current position. If you only interact with people in your current field, your chances of being able to move beyond it are much smaller.
Ask yourself these questions to see if yoare maximizing your network:
- Are most of my network connections connected with other people in my same network? In other words, are all those connections reaching inward to the same group?
- Are most of my network connections related to my current life, industry, and job?
- Is most of my communication happening with these people in my existing network?
If the answers to these questions is yes, then it’s time to intentionally reach out to people on the edge of your network, who are not part of that scrambled mass of interconnection. Find out what they’re into, and get yourself invited along to an event where you might meet some of their network connections. Chances are, you’ll enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and discovering that you didn’t have to choose between your career and your network after all.
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