How healthy is your network?
I ran across a couple of totally unrelated stories today (via the wonderful world of the Internet and the enjoyable blog of Bill Harris – Dubious Quality) that got me to thinking about the importance of friends. There are lots of studies that relate the value of being connected from a personal standpoint. A lot of those same benefits are also true in the business world where the friends and family equivalent is your business network.
In some cases, your friends and family are your business network but usually there are people that you wouldn’t necessarily classify as a friend but they are a valuable part of your network – and if you want it to stay that way, you better be a valuable part of their network.
The first story I ran across was this impossibly cute tidbit from the Daily Mail: Abandoned Monkey finds friend in Pigeon complete with this over the top picture!
It seems that this monkey was abandoned as a baby and was befriended by this pigeon, giving him a ‘new lease on life’.
The second story (no cute picture on this one) is about a really unusual spider web that was found in Texas that was over 200 yards long! You can read the details of the story here but after extensive research they determined that there was a bunch of spiders working together to form this Meta-Web (my term). Even though spiders like these normally are competitors, the unusual concentration of food prompted them to work together for the benefit of all.
Granted it’s a bit of a stretch, but here’s what this got me to thinking about in terms of a small business owner.
Are you actively building a network? Not just a network of prospective clients, but a network of potential partners, support vendors or just people that you know, like and trust that you can use as a sounding board.
Are you having conversations with people you know to see how or if you could be of mutual benefit to each other? Could you build a Meta-Web – even if you overlap in your business in some way?
Are you finding people that are drifting a bit, maybe they need some help or guidance, and doing what you can for them? The essence of a network is value that you add (without specifically seeking anything in return). Have you met anyone that you could help out today that would build up your network?
If you’re not doing these things, you should be!
Building (and keeping) a network can be really hard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on your day to day problems or to just spend time with your immediate circle, but the value of a strong, diverse network is immeasurable – both professionally and personally.
Here’s a suggestion – make a weekly activity on your calendar to help out at least 1 person in your professional network. It could be as simple as sending them a link to an article, website or resource that pertains to what they do. You could make an introduction to a potential prospect or partner (potentially helping 2 people at once…!). Or you could just setup some time to meet with them and see how things are going. Give them some support and some time and let them know you’re interested.
Let me know any ways that you build or keep your network. I’d love to hear from you.
Shawn Kinkade www.aspirekc.com