In late January, I fully tore my Achilles tendon playing basketball and once surgery was recommended I was devastated. I love to workout and a huge part of my business model is meeting people for coffee. Knowing I was going to be in a cast for 6 weeks and couldn't play sports for months, I prepared for the worst.
Little did I know from then until now, I learned a lot about business through unconventional ways.
Ironically while I was recovering, some of the relationships I had nurtured for a while started to blossom into opportunities. I was asked to join a couple of start-ups in roles that were outside of my strengths. Instead of backing down, I challenged myself to be uncomfortable. It has been a roller coaster of emotions, but it's forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn different business models from seasoned veterans.
I share my experiences with you because just like recovering from an injury, networking is a slow process.
At the core of networking is relationship building. You and I do business with people we trust. If you like someone, chances are better that you'll pursue an opportunity with them. We do business with people we like.
Take a look into your personal network. Forget the size, but measure the strength of it. If you were unemployed, who would you turn to? I'm not talking about your co-workers. Instead consider yourself a brand. Who would you partner with to grow your idea? After all is stripped away, you are left with your network.
The model has changed for good. It's not about climbing the corporate ladder anymore. It's about linking arms with those you want to go into battle with. Networking is no longer an option, it's a necessity. During lean times, we can't place our security in positions. They can be washed away in an instant. You and I have to meet people, figure out how we can help each other and make sure to follow-up.
As vulnerable and helpless I felt while I was in a cast, the shining light was knowing I had others in my corner supporting me. Networking is not a long-term goal, it's a way of life.
If you're looking for a place to start building your network, check out Career Synergy. If you have a strong personal network, continue to build it. As far as we have come with technology, it still comes down to who you know. People will always be your greatest asset. Go forth and network! (now)