Knowing how to grow your professional network is a skill that can help your career advance faster than just about anything else.
After all, your network is one of the most valuable assets you have for career success.
People from your network can help you with the challenges of your current job, they can help you to find leads for a new job, and they can help you develop skills and insights to grow as a professional.
Now, you can take steps to make your network even more powerful–for you, and for everyone in it.
The secret is hiding in plain sight. It will seem obvious once I point it out.
But you probably aren’t actively doing anything about it. Until today.
Let’s relate it to your individual value.
Your individual value
You might already realize that you are probably better off being good at a few different disciplines than really great at just one.
Because mixing skills often leads to more unique and powerful capabilities than deep expertise.
This doesn’t apply to all cases. If you’re a brain surgeon, you will be best off focusing deeply on that discipline.
But it does apply in many cases. Even in some that are surprising.
Who is more valuable to an organization? The great accountant with lots of deep expertise or the good accountant who is also a good marketer and a good project manager?
Even if they are not great at marketing, project management, or even accounting, they might be super valuable because that combination of skills is so strong when combined together. It’s also rare.
Now, let’s look at your network.
Your network value
If your network is a bunch of people in the same industry, the same job function, and the same geographic area, you will have great success in many ways.
But you will also be limited.
What if you expanded your network to include different groups of people?
Maybe you’re in IT and active in a related professional network. You could keep expanding your circle in that area.
Or you could join a group of marketers. With that one change you can now gain insight, perspective, and help from groups in very different disciplines.
You can also contribute a lot to each group by crossing paths in this way.
The IT expert can offer a lot of great insight and expertise to the marketing group. The marketing expert can offer a lot to an IT group.
A lot of value is added to both groups through your participation.
And it gets even better.
Professional network growth
Not only do the two very different networks benefit directly from your participation, but you also just linked the networks together.
By establishing connections into two different networks, you become able to connect more people from different disciplines. Eventually, they can connect with each other and strengthen the links between the networks.
If you do this just a few times, the value you create can become enormous.
Think about linking into three, four, five, or more different networks. What might that do to your ability to learn, leverage, and lead?
What might that do for many people in all of those different groups?
Probably a lot of good stuff.
Get out there, strategically
A strong professional network is a valuable asset. As you move through your career, you become able to lean on different people for help, insight, and professional connections of all sorts.
By taking some deliberate steps to link into a more diverse set of networks, you can exponentially increase both what you can offer to everyone and what you can gain. At the same time, you will be increasing the value to all of the networks themselves.
A little bit of initiative can go a long way. And it can pay dividends for many years.