Thoughtful Tuesday ...
"Opportunities don't happen. You create them." - Chris Grosser
A good friend sent me this quote a few days ago knowing how much I enjoy the words of others and it got me thinking about the opportunities I have had throughout my life. I am very grateful for all of them and I wondered did they just happen or did I actually create them? Chris Grosser is a successful leader #chrisgrosserphotography and I do agree that one must create the future and be accountable. I do think many of my opportunities were created but not without the help or investment of others.
I also believe though that you must be able to identify and recognize the connectors that can assist in the creation of the opportunity and that can take time and awareness. I reflected back on my early career when I didn't necessarily recognize the connectors or "hear the opportunity knocking."
I have always been a people person but did not always understand the value of a particular connector - creating a network of people that you cultivate, assist, seek counsel from, and keep in touch with. Not just when you need something but throughout your professional and personal life. Many have heard me say... " You and I should never not know each other" ... it is my own quote that I state after presentations, teaching lectures, and business encounters as examples...and I mean it! I believe that networking is one of the single most important activities one must invest time and energy into to be successful.
Building a network takes time and it is never to early or late to start. Below are my thoughts on how to get started or enhance your existing network that I have gleaned from the advice and experience of others over the years.
I tend to speak about networking as developing our networking circles of influence. Begin by blocking out a few hours and create a Networking Circles of Influence spreadsheet that you will continue to update with contact information such as; name, email, phone #, position/company, how you met, birth month/date, other key facts about the individual that can help you "connect" to them.
Go through your contacts past and present, Linked In, the old pile of business cards, your kids teachers/coaches, folks you connect with at church, associations, and so on. The first circle (or excel sheet tab) should be those closest to you...those in your life you can be very candid with and have very frequent contact with-family, friends, trusted colleagues. The next circle removed might consist of current and former colleagues, other folks you know personally and professionally that you feel comfortable reaching out to and come into contact with at least quarterly. The last circle is everyone else...folks that you see occasionally-once a year, still receive that holiday card from, see at conferences, are connected to on Linked In but do not know personally in depth. You have now created a lasting and living document that can assist you throughout your professional and personal life in identifying and creating opportunities!
My parting word of advice on "Thoughtful Tuesday " I want to emphasize is do not just connect with folks when you need something...make it a habit to reach out...not daily or weekly but with some frequency. Share an article of interest, wish a happy birthday, send an annual holiday greeting....keep a connection! People appreciate the gestures especially in today's world of 24/7, 365, non-stop. Most people genuinely like to help others and by investing in your network and keeping in touch you make yourself someone a person would want to help! Remember...anything is possible!