You know we care deeply about relationships and helping you build a thriving network.
But, as I’ve been pondering this week, I wonder if we’ve inadvertently distracted you from an important piece of the puzzle.
We’ve talked in spades about the qualities that make someone a great networker...
And yes! Hold fast to those principles because they will most certainly serve you well as you BUILD a network.
Today, however, it’s time to talk about the state of your network itself—you know...the one you’ve been building.
How is your network performing? Are there cogs that need oiling or spokes that need repairing?
A builder doesn’t add a second story to a home without assessing the strength and stability of the first floor.
As networkers, we must apply the same principle. We can't focus too much on the task of “building” lest we forget to tend to the relationships we’ve already established.
This week, let’s change our perspective. Instead of looking outward, let’s take a step back and examine the network you’ve already built.
Do you feel good when you reflect on the overall state of your network? What pieces of your network are thriving? What parts need more support? Do you need to keep building? Or is it time to nourish what you have?
Before you check your network's pulse...
Make sure you're equipped with the best tools to support your relationship-building endeavors. Our Contact Mapping app is the perfect companion for ANYONE who values relationships.
SIGNS OF A THRIVING NETWORK
How can you tell if your network is healthy and thriving? Even if you have numerous prospects in the pipeline and your phone is ringing off the hook, these indicators only tell one piece of the story.
There are several other markers worth considering as you examine your network and try to determine if it’s truly thriving.
As you assess the quality of the network, here are 5 questions to consider…
Are the people in your network interconnected? No networker wants to live on an island. Even worse, you don’t want your contacts to live on separate islands.
To have a thriving network, it doesn’t mean you’re at the center with spokes connecting to each of your contacts.
A thriving network is more like a web—or really just a bowl of spaghetti. You can build this interconnected spaghetti bowl by facilitating connections among people in your network and simply serving as the bridge between relationships.
If people in your network are connected on many different levels, you’ll have a greater web of support when you need it—rather than a bunch of individual spokes with only YOU as their point of connection.
Is your network diverse? We know that diverse networks are powerful networks, so now is a good time to take a look at the different people you have in your circle. When we are talking about diversity, we aren’t just talking about racial and ethnic diversity—though that’s definitely an important piece.
A diverse network also includes people in different industries, in varying geographical locations, in other generations, etc. If you’re wondering if your network is diverse enough, here are 10 types of people everyone should have in their network.
Is your network growing beyond your inner circle? It’s important to understand that a healthy network includes people well beyond those we’d consider “close friends.”
It can be easy to devote the majority of our time and attention to a handful of people in our network—most likely the ones who give us something in return, either on a personal or professional level.
For a network to remain healthy, however, it’s critical to nurture and seek out weak ties, too. Mark Granovetter out of Johns Hopkins University found that weak ties in a network actually make it stronger. Because it is the weak ties (like acquaintances) who connect groups of strong ties together.
So don’t discount the weak ties in your network. Just because you don’t turn to them like you do your closest friend, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to nurture those relationships—they are often the ones you need when it comes time to expand your network or find a new job.
Is your network consistently growing in strength? As is true with every living organism, growth is a marker of health and vitality. The same is true with your network.
Growth in a network is measured in two ways—size and strength—but the strength of a network is a better indicator of overall health. After all, you could grow your network by 5 people every day, but if you aren’t nourishing the relationships you’ve already established, the extra numbers won’t mean much in the long-run.
Take a look at how your network is growing—are you consistently investing into your established relationships? Are you seeing fruits of your labor as the strength of your network increases?
If you need something at 2AM, would anyone in your network show up? One of the greatest benefits of building a network is—if done correctly—it should bring YOU more joy and support.
We all know that situations in our lives can change immediately—you lose your job, or your anxiety reaches an all-time high, or a family member receives a difficult diagnosis.
When that day comes, do you have people who’d show up—even at 2 AM? And not just close friends, do you have an interconnected web of supporters who’d rally around you enthusiastically?
This marker of network vitality is often only testable when crappy things happen. However, now is a great time to hypothesize if the network you’ve built will provide reciprocal support to you or if you need to rethink how you’re building and nourishing those relationships.
So how are you feeling after that? Do you feel like your network is healthy and thriving? If so, high fives to you, my friend! If not, spend some time this week considering ways in which you can be nourishing your current network and building its strength.
Keep up the hard and important work. It’s not always comfortable to identify areas for growth, but by ensuring our networks are functioning well, we will reap greater benefits down the road!