In early December of 2006, I was fired from my job, and within 30 minutes of being terminated, I was re-employed. How was I able to do that? It was the result of my professional network.
My “fired to success” story is highlighted in Jim Smith, Jr.’s new book The No Excuse Guide to Success: No Matter What Your Boss – or Life – Throws at You.
By reading this article, you will have the 5 key steps that I’ve used and you can use that will result in a powerful professional network that will dramatically enhance your short and long term career success.
Step 1: Develop a SUCCESS Team
Your reputation is your brand, and every time you open your mouth, you are enhancing or destroying your brand value. Like most brands, you need a small trusted team of professionals to help ensure you’re developing and positioning your brand for success. In my article The 8 Critical Contributors to Your Success, I identify the people you need as your brand’s SUCCESS team. This is the first and most critical step to highly successful networking. Now that you know the critical roles required for networking success, you need to know what to do in order to effectively develop a powerful professional network.
Step 2: Build Your Network with People Who Can Do These 3 Critical Things for You
You and your SUCCESS Team members should be building your network with people who can do these 3 things for you:
- Enhance your knowledge and expertise. The more you know as a result of the people you know, the more powerfully successful you will be.
- Provide access to influential people in other functions, geographies, and industries. The more diverse your network, the more successful you will be.
- Introduce you to people who you can mentor and coach. Successful people know you must always help others achieve success in order for you to remain successful.
It’s a fact, if you’re the smartest person in your network, it is too small which makes you under social capitalized. So review your existing network, and take action today to close any gaps you may have in the 3 areas listed above.
Step 3: Build Relationships with People in Positions of Power and Authority
It is imperative that you know people who can remove roadblocks and create opportunities simply because of their level of authority and power. One of the most effective ways to build relationships with people in positions of power is through professional associations in your industry and serving on non-profit boards. As a past President of two chapters of ASTD and a former member of ASTD’s National Advisors for Chapters, I’ve built strong, trust based relationships with CEOs and global leaders in a variety of industries. As my experience demonstrates, once you have access, by proving you are a trustworthy person who can add value to them, you can easily build highly effective relationships.
Step 4: Build Relationships with People of Influence
Chances are, you won’t have a large number of people in your network who are in positions of power and authority, so the next category of people you need in your network are those who have great influence without a formal title. These people are politically savvy and know how to use their influence to get things done. They are easy to spot because they are known as people who make things happen. That’s their brand. They are what Malcolm Gladwell calls “connectors”, and they make things happen simply by the people they know and the relationships they can leverage. In fact, by following these 5 steps of highly successful networking, you can easily become a person of serious influence and others will seek you out solely because of the strength of your network.
Step 5: Minimize Contact with People Who Create a Negative Return on Your Brand (ROB)
While we can never fully eliminate all of the people who waste our time or drain our energy, it is important that you revoke their license to interfere with you and your brand. These people come in a variety of distasteful flavors – the arrogant person, the negative person, the know-it-all person, etc. By limiting contact with these folks who always seem to drive us crazy, you can focus on those relationships that are important to invest in.
Now that you know who to have in your professional network and what you should be doing to make it powerful, all you have to do is scan your existing network to get the right people in place and to identify the changes you need to make to fill gaps and strengthen your network. Do these things, and you will build a powerfully successful network that will provide you with incredibly rewarding relationships as well as provide a critical safety net in those inevitable times of need we all experience.
Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org and explore more of this website to gain access to programs and additional strategies for developing a highly effective professional network that will significantly enhance your career success.
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