We talk a lot about social networks and social networking these days, but itâ€™s really nothing new. Only the tools are. People have been networking with peers for decades, much longer actually, but weâ€™ve only really called it networking for a generation or so.
While tools like social networks, micro-blogging, or podcasting utilities, and the Internet itself bring powerful new (and fun) ways to network, it still relies on people. Without people, these tools are simply high-tech toys with little purpose.
Anyway, what Iâ€™m talking about here is your personal network of peers and associates in your industry or genre. The people that you interact with, compete with, and explore opportunities with. Your personal network is an important part of your career. I didnâ€™t fully realize this until I left a cozy but uninspiring position a couple years ago. It wasnâ€™t until spending a bit of time out participating, networking, and interacting with folks in and out of my field that I discovered how important a personal network is.
Interestingly, my personal network is grown from my mix of social media exploration and personal branding work. Through both interests, Iâ€™ve grown a network of friends and associates that I can share ideas with, send questions to, be a support network for peers, recommend people, help solve problems, and much more.
So, I strongly recommend paying attention to your network. The people you associate with professionally and socially have a lot to offer to you in both your personal and professional life. Not only does a person need to grow that network, but to maintain it as well. After all, as in most things, itâ€™s the quality of the network, not the ultimate size that yields the greatest results and rewards.
Also, being a helpful resource to your network, not just a consumer of it, will bring more value to you than you can imagine. As you participate in your network â€“ your friends and associates â€“ make sure to help them find what theyâ€™re looking for. Help them with jobs, choosing the right iPod, finding the right hotel for vacation, answering those social network questions, or whatever else comes along. Be the resource that your network needs and your network will be there for you.
Photo credit: luc legay