Networking is simply “friends helping friends.” As I share in my book, Coffee Lunch Coffee: A Practical Field Guide for Master Networking, that is the way my friend, Denise Upah Mills, describes it. That’s right. Networking is all about friendship.
When you think of your relationship base, who is it that you think of? Are you focused on your inner circle – perhaps just a few individuals who you feel closest with and with whom you are comfortable sharing your deepest thoughts and personal stories? Maybe it’s one layer more… your closest friends plus some work colleagues, a business partner, maybe a neighbor or two? Or, are you the type who casts a wide net, most satisfied with many loose ties that help you extend your reach and connections to a broad audience? Whatever the case, you’re right!
There are benefits to strong, very personal connections – as well as benefits to less formal, professional associations with others. The trick is to have a good mix of “friendships” on both sides of the spectrum – and everywhere in between. And, of course, the best way to build a network and to have a strong relationship base is to be a good friend. To be trustworthy and honest and open and willing to assist. It’s asking, “what can I do to help you?” before asking, “what have you done for me lately?”
What’s most important in life? Is it jobs, money, things? No. It’s the relationships — the friendships — we develop over time. New friendships… old friendships… that is where we find our joy, that is where we find meaning. The rest is simply gravy.