Do You Think Critically When Building Your Network?


by Joe McKenzie

A few months back I wrote an article asking the question, “Do you value your network?” I received a lot of feedback and had numerous discussions with my own network connections as a result of the article. The discussions made me wonder: does the current professional networking environment – and the ease with which someone can accumulate over 500 friends, followers, or contacts on social media – result in a preference for quantity over quality? I have observed first-hand people whose sole focus is quantity in building their networks They may be missing opportunities to create the stronger connections that a smaller, more managable network allows.

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When I found myself in career transition a few years back, I had about 20 trusted contacts that were completely outside of my own family and friends. These connections were people who really understood and respected me professionally. I spend an equal amount of time strengthening my existing connections as I do creating new ones.

While social media has made having hundreds of connections easy, there are limits to this method of networking. I think if I had relied only on social media connections when I was in career transition, I likely would have garnered several “likes” to my status update and not much more. I say this because these people would not know me well enough personally to go to bat for me. There is obviously a qualitative difference in network connections who will “like” your post, versus a connection who will take your resume to a key decision maker.

I don’t want to discount the value of a large network, if used strategically.  My online professional network connections are valuable to me. However, my smaller, more manageable team of meaningful network connections are invaluable to me, because I know if I need personal recommendations or a source of referrals for my business, each one would provide guidance and/or direct assistance.

I challenge you to take time to think critically about your professional network.  With focus and work, it is possible to have the best of both worlds in professional networking – quantity WITH quality.

Joe McKenzie is a Professional Networking Coach, Speaker and Owner at Ripple Connects, Inc

 

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