I often get questions about how I’ve organically grown a network that includes some pretty heavy hitters. I’m no name dropper, but I do have the privilege of being connected to some folks on both coasts – and across the pond – who are way smarter than I am, and whom I can personally contact and ask a favor of when I need to. I’ve also been able to build up relationships with some really great people who I consider unofficial mentors – they give me advice, answer questions and allow me to come visit their cool offices when I’m feeling the need for some inspiration outside of my own head.
There’s no magic to it, really. I don’t have a secret formula, I don’t buy followers. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. I try not to brag too much – although there’s always a fine line between celebrating and sharing your successes and coming across as narcissistic. I never want to be seen that way – it’s one of my pet peeves.
What I do is say “yes.” I say yes when someone wants to talk about their job search or career frustrations. I say yes when near strangers ask me to make an introduction to them to someone on Linkedin (after checking with the other party, of course). I say “Yes!” to others’ work – by sharing and celebrating it, commenting and engaging with them on it. I say yes when people ask if they can “pick my brain” – as often as I can, anyway. Sometimes they want to “do coffee” and I’ll move it to a brief phone call – capping the time and setting expectations ahead of time that the phone is much more efficient unless we already happen to be in the same vicinity.
When I say “yes” to someone, they remember. It’s a gesture, an extra step in showing that this relationship – this connection – matters to me. I’m not just building my network numbers, I really want to help you if I can – and in turn, hope that you would do the same for me when the time comes. This is what helps me to build – and sustain – a powerful (not the biggest) network.
Saying yes is helping. It’s supportive, it’s positive and it’s easy to do – even when you’re saying no. But more on that in my next post.
What – or to whom – have you said “Yes!” to lately?