We had a motivational speaker come to my high school once. He was on a book tour, and I couldn’t even tell you the title anymore. But this poor sap had the luck of coming to a high school to teach young adults what he knew about how to be successful.
To sum up that horrible presentation in one word: Networking. He talked for an hour about how to network to high school students.
He wasn’t very motivational to me. I left the school auditorium that day feeling like if that was what I had to do to succeed, I never would. I knew I couldn’t be like that. It just wasn’t “me” to be loud and outgoing, talking to people all the time. I was depressed for a week. I even tried to read his book. I thought it was more blather. It was all useless, not very motivational. His way was not how I would be successful. And how much did the school pay to bring him in (I hope nothing, being a public school and all). But then, how could I be successful?
I had to go to college soon and make all those decisions about my future. Blah blah blah. It was terrifying then. But somehow I forced my way through it, doing what worked for me.
It turns out that I am really good at networking. I’d never have gotten to where I am without it. No, I don’t have the hugest network. But I develop good relationships with the people that I do know. Make a point to keep in touch and scratch backs in return. And I think that was what he was really getting at. One day, someone will need you to get in touch with them just as much as you need to reach out to them. And just like that, both of you are in a much better place. It’s happened to me countless times now. All I had to do was swallow and hit send, or pick up the phone. It certainly was never as horrible as I thought it would be.
You don’t have to have the biggest network, but take care of the one you have and it will grow in the right direction. That’s what it’s all about in the end, not knowing all the people, but knowing the right people well enough to stay in touch. And by “right” people I don’t mean the CEO of every company out there, but the people that you connect with. Don’t waste your time on people with whom you share no common ground–doesn’t that just feel awkward all around? That’s not what we’re looking for.
As I begin to take social networking seriously, not too seriously I hope, I’m going to try to keep this in mind.