Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Making network connections

At a recent networking event I met with an entrepreneur and we talked about her new venture. It was soon clear that the business concept was a sound one. The individual energy, passion and expertise were all in place. The profile of the business had grown beyond all expectation but at the same time something was missing.

Continuing our conversation we agreed on an important point, in this case the need for a professional marketing opinion. We also agreed that neither of us were experts in this field. The good news was that between us we had worked closely with professional marketers in the past. Between us we could make a connection and an introduction with the potential to move this entrepreneurial business one additional step forward.

Considering this encounter a few days after the event, there are parallels with the networking activity that forms an integral part of successful career management and job searching. Most networking conversations and introductions will not create immediate opportunity but they are great opportunities for understanding and gaining new perspectives. What can you learn about the other person, their career or business? What are their priorities, trends in their market or expectations from the future? How does your perspective differ and importantly, as in the earlier example, what opportunities do your combined networks create?

Understanding in such situations creates opportunities on both sides. The people in your network (old and new alike) can easily be the greatest asset in your pursuit of personal success but becoming so depends on their success too. Creating opportunities, regardless of whether they appear to benefit you immediately or not, enables success in the future. A narrow focus for your network discussions also contrasts with the aims of a successful career management plan and what it can help you achieve. 

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