If you are looking for a new job, to change careers, or just to have a more satisfying, engaged life, you need a network — a robust, ever-expanding network. There is a tendency with age to let our networks diminish, and with it our skill at making new ones. As people fall out of our networks, we often don’t replace them and the network languishes in size and power.
We hear all sorts of reasons for this, but they basically come down to this: we get scared of making new friends and connections, we judge too quickly, we are quick to ask, ‘What’s in it for us?’ and less quick to ask, ‘What can we contribute?’
Hard is not impossible.
This week it’s about expanding the network. Some of you out there are super pro at this, but for some it is really hard. So how to begin? Let’s borrow from one of my all time top 3 books, How to Win Friends and Influence People: The next time you are in an elevator, or a check-out line, notice the person next to you, be curious about them, and immediately comment on something about them you like: “Nice shoes, where did you get them? …That’s so interesting.” Then leave it at that unless your new friend wants to speak more. You just improved this person’s day, you just took a small step to increasing your network, and this person has now lodged you in his mind as someone they can easily speak with. The same goes for online networks. Think about: What can I contribute? How can I be helpful and thoughtful? When can I say yes to something? One step at a time. Opt for more real-world face-to-face connection with people you have never met, rather than Facebook and its algorithm-mitigated silos of like-minded friends. It’s a risk to reach out, but every time we say yes and take a chance on someone new we get stronger.