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The value of a network

October 28, 2009

I thought I’d share with you the value of building and maintaining a network, both human and web 2.0 version based on connectivity of the past few days, as there have been many interesting and unexpected connections…

  1. I am on the planning committee for BC HRMA’s 2010 conference, sourcing speakers.  I was approached by a former colleague, who is the chair.  I spoke for this track earlier year, when my name was put forward by another former colleague.  I suggested two speakers, one of whom we “signed” and the other had a scheduling conflict.  The team needed to select an alternate and I wasn’t available for the conference call.  The person chosen happens to live on the same small island that I do, unbeknownst to any of us, but when I looked at the name, it struck me as familiar.  I don’t know him (but I plan to connect with him).  The value – a possible connection for professional purposes close to home.  I’ll be able to help him prepare for the conference and we might discover complementary skills and interests.  Additional value comes from the connections with other committee members, a reduced conference admission fee, access to the speakers and public recognition at next year’s conference.
  2. I wasn’t available because I was speaking at another conference, and I was asked to do a presentation on web 2.0 for learning, by a former co-worker, who liked my style and had worked with me before.  I received a small speaker’s fee for this and met more than 60 people who may or may not ever need my services.  The value of this was tangible.  Money. 
  3. I was asked to do a webinar for BC HRMA due to another former colleague moving there and passing my name along.  Since I’ve done a similar version of this presentation, I am able to re-purpose some of the work I did for the conference.  Value is both the potential future clients, the exposure to the entire membership, the marketing and not to mention the value of doing the research of the subject matter, which has proved to be “invaluable”.
  4. I received a note from another former co-worker who has recently moved to a new organization.  She was looking for some advice.  When we tried to coordinate a good time to talk on the phone, she mentioned that she couldn’t meet tomorrow because she was going to be going to meet with a client of theirs, who happens to be on the small island that I live on.  Coincidentally, I was on the float plane home with the CEO of her client organization, Salt Spring Coffee (I’m a loyal customer).  The value = I might be able to help her solve a business problem and if they engaged me for some consulting work, that would be another tangible value.
  5. I sent out a LinkedIn invitation to a former colleague, who I know has a place on this island that I live on.  She’s accepted, and we may end up re-connecting in person.  When we spoke before, her future plans were in areas that I might be able to help her with.  Value = potential partnership.

I could go on, but the important thing is that building and maintaining a network is an essential part of not only doing business, but living as a human being.  I’ve written before on the bad rap that networking has (it isn’t about schmoozy lunches), but it is really about making connections with other humans.  Who knows if you might meet a lifelong friend, a mentor, or your next client.   The beauty of the social networking tools out there (I have both Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, but really only use LinkedIn) is that it can help you keep the connections alive.  The person who contacted me for advice – I hadn’t spoken to since we worked together about 2 years ago.

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