Throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to have the support of a remarkable network. I have had excellent advisors and mentors and I have surrounded myself with talented people from a variety of backgrounds who have exposed me to a great diversity of thought. This awe-inspiring group of people has been there for me when I needed them most.
When people tell me that they find networking difficult, my response is that networking is simply about connection and should be a way of life. When you have a problem, my advice is to share your issue as widely as you can. You may be surprised by who steps forward to help you.
Networking through History
According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the most famous illustrations of the power of networking dates back to 1775 and concerns Paul Revere and his famous midnight ride. Most people know who Paul Revere is. Yet far fewer are familiar with the name “William Dawes”.
Both men rode on horseback from Boston on the night of April 18, 1775. Both sounded the alarm that the Revolutionary War had begun. Dawes rode south while Revere rode north, but the towns they traveled through were demographically similar. Both men came from the same social class and had similar educational backgrounds. But only Revere’s name became famous. In large part, the type of social network each man cultivated accounts for this difference. Because Paul had a strong social network that connected him to disparate groups of people, he was able to target other well-connected people during his ride, his news spread widely and quickly. William Dawes, who did not have as strong of a network, didn’t know which doors to knock on when he entered a new town. As a result, the information he carried was circulated only within a small group of people.
When you have a problem, share it!
When you have a problem to solve, the more people who know about it, the greater the chance that someone will be able to connect the dots and solve it. Help can come from the most unexpected of places. That is the beauty of networking!
Anyone you interact with in any way may be able to solve your problem or may know someone else who can. For example, a young man I know relocated from New York to California. He assumed he would have no problem landing a new job there because he had unique skills. However, after reaching out to local industry contacts with no luck, he began to lose hope. One day, while he was visiting friends, their astute housekeeper looked up from the sandwiches she was preparing and asked him what type of job he was looking for. He answered politely, thinking nothing of the exchange. A few weeks later he got a call from the CEO of a niche company with an opening that he was well suited for. When he asked the CEO how he had gotten ahold of his resume, the CEO’s response startled him. “Rosa cooks for me three times a week. One day my favorite dish was on the table with your resume next to it. She told me that I just had to meet you.” It turned out she was right! Opportunities can come from unexpected places. My advice is to always treat everyone with respect and never be afraid to ask.
When challenges or opportunities present themselves, I know I can count on my network. I keep in touch with all of them and I help them whenever possible. This makes it easy to ask them for help when I need it. And I never hesitate to do just that!
Therese Fauerbach is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Northridge Group, a growing management consulting firm that specializes in delivering value to clients and ensuring a better experience for their customers. To learn more, contact us.