Currently my career is in sales. I’m looking to transition back into management after an almost four year break. One of the tools I’ve placed into my tool-bag and forgot about from my decade of management was my network. Until recently I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s been there waiting for me to reawaken it.
That same network that’s gotten my foot in the door at countless opportunities in the past is the same network that will propel me into my future. I will take it with me always. If you’re reading this that means this network I’ve got is your network as well. You just have to connect with me. This can be confusing if you haven’t had formal networking training or have not been exposed to high level business and corporate types in the past.
I’d like to break down how a network works for my friends and readers who haven’t been educated in networks and networking. If this is old hat for you don’t fret. Those people need to learn from us. They’ll need our networks to kick start theirs and will reciprocate value in their own unique ways later.
A network is like a circle that you stand in the center of. Closest to you will be your family. Family comes first. Blood is thicker than water. You know the adages. I’ve got an amazing family. I have a wife who is a photographer and jewelry designer. She is there if anyone needs either of those skills. She is also a great person to connect with regarding organic and sustainable living and child rearing. She’s pretty awesome in the garden and handy around the house as well.
She’s got two brothers. Both have personal training certifications. One has hand gun and rifle training certifications and is a hell of a youth mentor and sports coach. The other coached me through my dietary changes and a body transformation that led to getting myself on track to overall good health and significantly better self-esteem. He also coaches MMA and grappling if you have the desire to kick ass literally as well.
Their mom has family law expertise and can help with any legal questions that we ever have. She doesn’t always have every answer, but she’s usually got someone or some organization in her network that we can reach out to if she cannot provide the assistance personally. She’s an herbalist as well. She has created a few proprietary salves and lip balms that work wonders on bruises and wounds we pick up along my adventures. Like her daughter she is a jewelry designer and photographer as well.
Let’s step back for a second and look at the value just these four people add to my life. It’s pretty cool. There’s a secret hiding in the connections there. For all the things those guys can do for me. They have infinite value in another way. I’ll come back to that value soon.
A little further out of the center of my circle is my friends. I’ve got some awesome friends as well. I have a couple in my life that run a catering company out of Denver. They provide meal and dressing room services at several concert venues around the area like Red Rocks and the Pepsi Center. Their catering company feeds the performers, their tour management, the local stage hands, as well as the employees and runners of the production companies such as AEG and LiveNation. They’ve catered concerts for everyone including Sting, Justin Beiber, Rhianna, and Bruno Mars.
I have two friends that are brothers. They own a wood flooring company. They offer the best quality floors and customer service. I have another friend that is a plumber by trade. I have another who is a licensed contractor, but he is currently doing consulting work for a multi-national software company. He’s a pretty good contact for marijuana related business as well.
I have a cousin who is a realtor in Florida if I ever want to uproot. I have a mortgage guy here in Colorado as well as a great realtor. Both are siblings of other people in my network. The mortgage dealer’s brother is the proprietor of the catering company. The realtor’s sister has a background in organized activism, sustainability, and community building. She’s out in Maui in case I’m ever out visiting in paradise.
I have a beast of a female MMA fighter in my network. Her boyfriend is the brother of my plumber friend I mentioned earlier. Her boyfriend fights and trains as well, but he can also build me a sick deck or frame the house I may build one day.
The interconnectivity of it all is so beautiful and complex. Yet it is all so simple and easy to harness.
Do you need a pool built? A restaurant opened or funded? A lesson in e-commerce? Or just a great cup of coffee from an independent coffee shop at the busiest intersection in Boulder? I have those people and more just in my friends circle.
We each have a similar circle. Some are larger than others, but your network can be grown and developed. As I said earlier that’s not even the most beautiful part though. The most beautiful part of my network is that they are your network if you are in my network. You are just outside the friend section of my circle even if you are not in my direct network.
If someone in your network is in my network my network becomes your network. It’s not an addition equation. It’s multiplication and exponential. You don’t even need to know me to have access to my network. That is the part that can be confusing. Networks are shared. They are open-source. Networks are fluid and growing constantly. They are started at the exchange of business cards and handshakes and solidified in shared experiences and emotional connections.
If this sounds good and useful to you then all you have to do is be personable and open to meeting new people. You need to be willing to add value to others because you cannot have a successful network if all you do is take. And most importantly don’t act like an asshole. Have a conversation with someone new. Ask what they do. Be vulnerable. Share. Connect.
It’s a lot like making friends when we were children. You went up to a kid on the playground and asked them if they wanted to play. Most of the time they did. The ones that didn’t didn’t get to become your friend. At the time it didn’t feel good to be rebuffed. You didn’t dwell on it for long. It was their loss because you’re pretty awesome. They didn’t get to share your awesome network of local kids and your knowledge of all the best parks, toy stores, candy shops, and things to do.
Think about the circle that I have. Then imagine your own circle. Picture each person within those two circles and look at all the places they overlap. Now take a step back and picture each person within each of our circles with similar individual circles of their own. Look at all the places those circles overlap. Look at all the people that were not in our two circles that are now connected to us.
That, my friends, is how the network works. Now get out there with this new knowledge and see how large of a network you can build and how far it will take you in your future. I look forward to hearing about it. I’ll release future posts on networking, but feel free to connect with me if you have any questions or concerns.