Putting your network to good use

Have you ever counted how many family members, friends, acquaintances or business relationships you have? No, neither have I. But, if I rely on Linked in and Facebook, I know in excess of 1000 people and, I have a reach in excess of 14000 people.

Knowing each of these individuals has absolutely no benefit however, it’s what I do with this network of people that can make all the difference. How often do you connect people in your network to one another? And, how can you put your network to good use?

Last week I attended a Child and Youth Finance International event in Amsterdam. The first of many to come. Founder, Jeroo Billimoria, is a woman on a mission who makes things happen and someone who bangs on doors and makes her network, work for her. This event was attended by hundreds of business people, NGOs and individuals from around the globe. I met some very interesting people doing some exceptional work; Development initiatives network in Nigeria and Unicef in Nepal. People from organisations that need help in order to help others. Working for a global organisation has its benefits, so I immediately connected my Deloitte colleagues in India and Nigeria to the NGOs that I had met, in the hope that benefit will be found.

You can start closer to home though. A friend, Marianne Sassen, recently started her own company in the Netherlands, Marianne Communiceert. She consults businesses in communication strategy and translating this strategy to successful business activities. She realised that many local NGOs don’t have the financial resources to use a consultant, so she hooked up with a filmmaker, Tafelberg Films, to offer a day’s free communication advice and the production of a promotional film to a charitable organisation that takes the time to upload their business plan to their website, Operatie Spotlight. One, very lucky charity in the Netherlands will ‘win’ some free consulting work. A worthy activity, close to home, which I could immediately tweet and upload to my linked in profile. I know many charities that would be thrilled to receive this free advice.

Putting our networks to good use is therefore easier than you’d imagine. Think as local, regional or as global as your network will take you and remember, that a little (for you) can go a very long way for someone else.