Why My Network Is My Most Valuable Asset

I love my network. And I like to think my network loves me. We’ve been good to each other and we always watch each other’s back. And like a fine wine, my network only seems to be getting better with age.

But it doesn’t come easily. Maintaining and building a network takes a commitment. I typically spend roughly 4-6 hours a week staying connected to my network, on top of the hours I log during my day job.

Still, it’s the wisest investment I make all week, without a doubt.

I often speak in the community about the power of networking. When I share the amount of time I put in, people are sometimes skeptical.

But I have never questioned my network’s power, or the benefit it brings me.

Why? Because whether times are good, bad or downright stressful – whenever I activate my network, they never let me down.

So, let’s break down my network and how I use it.

Size of My Network:

It all depends on the situation. When I think about the people I am connected to, I typically break it out into three main groups:

  1. The Tribe – These are the 25 or so people who would do almost anything for me (and vice versa.) We call each other for advice or the occasional “I need you to meet with me right now” request. We are a group who rallies around each other during layoffs, who nominate each other for awards and proudly brag about each other’s accomplishments.
  2. The Amplifiers – This is a much larger group of acquaintances, friends and colleagues who get mutual benefit from amplifying each other’s messages. This is the group I will ask to share this blog post. Our relationships aren’t so deep that I would call on them for a big favor or ask for too much of their time, but we are always up for promoting each other’s work.
  3. The Teachers – This is a group that I look to for continual learning. We may have never met in person but we have collided in the digital world, which means we are likely connected on LinkedIn, follow each other on Twitter and read each other’s material. This is the group I listen to – and learn from.

Ways I Leverage My Network:

There are more ways than I can count – but here is the start of a good list:

  • When I am bored with my job and need a change
  • When I am questioning my job security
  • When I need to spread the word about an event or a cause
  • When I am looking for volunteer or Board work
  • When I need help brainstorming ideas for a project
  • When I am hiring and looking for a good candidate
  • When I am considering throwing my hat in the ring for an award
  • When I need an introduction to someone in town
  • When I need advice or a different perspective

How I Develop My Network

Building a network is the easy part. There are so many nice people out there willing to connect. The hardest part is maintaining the connection. Make no mistake–it is real work.

Here are a few of the things I do weekly to stay connected to keep these relationships strong:

  • I keep a network Twitter list so I can see what my connections post and I like/share or comment on what they put out. It’s important for them to see that I am invested in what they are doing and reading what they have to say.
  • For my tribe, I remember birthdays, anniversaries and important milestones. I mark these dates on my calendar so I don’t forget and I send a personal note.
  • I attend as many network events as possible. Even when I’m exhausted or over committed, I will stop in for a few minutes so they know I made the effort to get there.
  • When my network comes through for me, I send thank you notes, email follow ups and voicemails. It’s important for them to know that I don’t take their time for granted.
  • I block out at least one breakfast and one dinner a week to meet up with someone from my network. Life sometimes gets in the way, but I try to stick to this schedule.
  • I always answer their emails and return their calls. Always.
  • I help them make connections with others I know could help them, without being asked to do so.
  • I nominate them for awards.
  • I invite them to events or meetings where they can meet and interact with new people.

Whether it’s a massive, time-consuming effort or a quick note to show them that I care, I make the effort to stay connected to the people who are important to me.

I do this because the value of my network cannot be measured. It has saved me, bettered me and motivated me. You can’t put a price tag on what it has given me.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book Why Your Network Is Your Net Worth by Porter Gale.

“I believe your social capital, or your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, not your financial capital, is the most important asset in your portfolio.”

So when you think about the benefit a powerful network can bring you – don’t underestimate the time and commitment it takes to maintain.

Take good care of your network.

And it will take good care of you!

About author View all posts

Amy Martin

Amy Martin is an avid conversationalist and insomniac (averages about four hours a night) who craves engagement online and off. She's often blogging or speaking about ways to develop your personal brand to companies and leaders in Cleveland. When she isn't focused on her day job, she is running her own consulting agency, Hyperthink! She is passionate about mentoring other women and hugging her kids (who are too old to appreciate the affection) and she resides in Westlake with her husband, who still cannot fully explain what she does for a living. Amy is usually smiling and has an awkward obsession with "Murder, She Wrote" and incredibly unrealistic mystery shows.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Amy, I really loved this post. Some of my favorite advice ever given to me was to keep a “Christmas Card” list to ensure that I do not forget to reach out to extended contacts, mentors, and former coworkers at least once a year (at minimum), to check-in. As a young professional with a few solid years of experience under my belt, I see my network in CLE expanding. It’s a beautiful thing – and you provided great tips for continued, sustainable growth. Thanks!

  • Wow, Amy! I first took note of you when we were at TCFFC. When I saw your name, I knew this would be worth reading -boy was it! Thanks so much. Glad to see your billiance is still radiant.

  • Amy, it was wonderful to meet you at our Boot Camp II joint quest session at Parker Hannifin. You are an inspiration to all of the women and men lives that you touch. I learned so much from your presentation and the networking strategies that you gave will help me in my career. I look forward to seeing you at your next event at Gordon Square. Again, thank you for taking the time to share with us.
    Sandra Chance

  • Amy, it was a pleasure meeting you at our YWCA Boot Camp session at Parker Hannifin. I learn from you the importance of networking and how we, as women need to support each other in our careers. Again, thank you for taking the time to come out and share with us. I look forward to seeing you at you event at Gordon Square.

  • Great post! Now with so many social media options available, networking is easier than ever. And much of the awkwardness of losing touch goes away when you reconnect with someone online.

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