I remember when I was a young boy my step father saying to me, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” He was trying to explain to me a difficult truth, which is that often times the best opportunities come from relationships not hard work. Only after I grew up a bit and learned some lessons the hard way did I fully understand him. Hard work is necessary however, without opportunity it may not lead you where you expected. Working to have the best product, service, education, or career is an amazing foundation for success, but strive to include a strong focus on building your network as well.
Opportunities do not just materialize out of thin air. They are always attached to people. This fact is often overlooked and under appreciated. People have personalities and emotions and each individual behaves in a unique way. Developing your network of people and understanding each personality helps to grow the frequency of opportunities. Let’s look at a hot topic for the last few years, jobs. The economy has been beaten up and is still licking its wounds. Many are out of work and the competition for new jobs is tough. Companies have had the tendency to hire based off referrals. According to an article published in the New York Times large firms like Ernest & Young almost half 45% of non-entry level hires came from referrals compared to only 28% in 2010.
Your personal networks don’t just help with new job opportunities either. The people you choose to connect with are influencing many different parts of your life including your health, emotional state, and hobbies. Nicholas Christakis hosted an amazing TED Talk entitled: The Hidden Influence of Social Networks where he collected years of data to find that social networks are much more important to our personal lives than we might think.
Networks are very complex and are in a constant state of flux. The relationships you form are important for your business growth, personal health, and emotional stability. I encourage taking a strategic look at your network to find the ways you can improve your relationships and grown your influence within the network. Try reaching out to three of your connection a week with the goal of simply re-connecting and see how this influences your life. Focus on categorizing your connections into useful segments. For example some of your connections may only be for your business others might be relationships you made at the gym. Separating your connections into these segments will help you to see how each one is influencing your life. Let me know how focusing on your network has effected you and as always feel free to share stories and questions with me. Good luck.