A personal and professional network can have true value for each of us. This much, most of us could probably agree upon, right?
Well, at least that’s what I think. Apparently a few others seem to think so too, based on comments on my recent post on how job searching might change in the future. Who you know can play a role in doors opening for you, and other professional and business opportunities as well. This probably holds true in other areas of life as well, one would think.
I bring this up because of a conversation I had recently with a friend who thinks that networking is overrated. This guy has actually done quite well for himself in his career, working in corporate settings. He’s a tireless worker, competitive, and the type of person who I would think any boss would like to have. He’s progressed nicely through his career.
The thing is, while he probably has a really good reputation among people with whom he’s worked and his prior bosses, he doesn’t think networking is all that valuable. His approach toward it is (paraphrased) along the lines of “why would anybody help you if there’s nothing in it for them”. It’s an interesting take, when you think about it more. His approach is, that people will help you if there is something that you can directly do for them. For example, bringing you into a company might get them an employee referral bonus. His take is that you’re better off focusing on doing the very best you can do in terms of your own performance, and then things will fall into place for you.
My way of looking at it is different. While I do think that there are many people who do look at it the way he thinks they do, I also think that there are many people who look at things from a holistic perspective. By this, I mean that by helping someone out without being asked to do so, and without getting anything direct in return, it can still be beneficial for the giver.
When you give without receiving directly, there’s often some kind of boomerang effect. You may not something back directly, but perhaps through some sort of karma, givers can get good fortune back. Taking this into consideration, it makes sense that the bigger network you have, the more opportunities you have to give and to receive. Again, keeping in mind the value of giving.
Ultimately, contacts do have value. Taking another perspective, I recently took a look at Linkedin to see what they offer with account types other than the Basic one that most of us have. As it turns out, with their Business and Job Seeker accounts, I noted that they offered direct “InMail” contacts with the different account types. Regardless of which account was described, they appeared to note a “value” for that specific offering. For example, 3 InMail contacts per month was noted as having a US $30 value, 5 per month a US $50 per month value, etc. Simple math shows that each contact, which can apparently be to anyone on Linkedin – even outside your own network – is thus valued at $10 each.
This brought to mind the following question: if this type of contact via that one channel can be valued at $10 per each note, what about the value of true, long-term professional relationships with people?
Clearly, it would be much higher.
Bottom Line: No matter how we look at it, quantifying it or otherwise, there is a great value to having a professional (and personal) network.
My Questions for You
What do you think about the notion of one’s network being important?
Do you see things the way I do, or the way the person I mentioned does?
Has your network ever played a role in landing you a job or a major business opportunity?