Investing in your network

Eleven years ago I felt that my career had reached a stalemate. It seemed like everyone around me was making promotion and I couldn’t quite understand why I wasn’t. I followed a friend’s advice and I found a coach.

The coaching sessions were tough. Who really wants to garner 360 degree feedback, only to hear what you thought you were good at, you’re not? With the ‘bad’, also came the good and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the replies that I wasn’t expecting. I learned to separate what I loved doing, with what I thought I was good at. There’s often no relationship between what you excel at and what you actually enjoy; but perhaps more importantly, my coach taught me to build my network and to keep in regular contact with my friends and business acquaintances. She taught me to invest in my network and to help people as much as I could, whether there was a direct benefit for me or not.

I was reminded about this advice when the company that I work for, recently announced a major change in its strategy. Whilst I am unaffected by this change, many people that I have met over the past months are. It seems that the only constant in business is change, so what can you do in a situation like this?

1) Allow yourself to go through the emotional curve. Shock, anger, sadness and, where relevant, mourn your loss.
2) Reach out to your colleagues. It’s not all about you and you may be able to help one another.
3) Talk to your manager to determine the short and long term priorities for you and your team.
4) Take stock. Get that 360 degree feedback. Understand what you’re good at and how you are perceived by others.
5) Update your CV; also online.
6) Let family, friends and business acquaintances know about your situation. This is not a time to be proud! And, they may be able to help you.

Once you’ve determined what you would like your next step to be, let people know. Talking about your dreams and aspirations, helps you visualise them and this will help you to determine what you need to do, to make your dreams become a reality.

I’m a firm believer that we don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason. Combining this knowledge with the age old saying, ‘you reap what you sow’ is extremely powerful. A network is only as strong as you make it yourself. Invest in the people you know and they are sure to invest in you when you need them.

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