Your Network is Your “Net Worth”

5/30/2022

At the start of my career, I believed that I would get where I wanted to be if I just put my head down and did my work right. Over the years, however, I have come to recognize that along with the dedication to our work, we must focus on two other crucial aspects if we are to grow and succeed—continuous reskilling and building a solid network. And do it now.

The reasons to continuously upskill and cross-skill yourself are evident—no second thought on that. Many learned professors, management professionals, and leaders have spoken about the need for continuous learning, especially in today’s dynamic and hyper-competitive environment when technology trends are changing by the day.

What you probably won’t find in most self-help books is that along with technical learning, mastering the art of networking will further your career in unconventional ways. They don’t say your network is your “net worth” for nothing. Your experiences, the people you have interacted with, and the people you served right, all play a massive role in shaping you as a professional and a leader.

Take a step back and recall your schooling or under-grad or post-grad days, your first job or your last one. You will find yourself thinking more about the people who contributed to making it a memorable experience (good or bad) rather than the jobs and tasks you did. Humans are social animals who crave interactions. Your school was never just about academics; it’s where you probably made your lifelong friends. Recall your first job or first team or first promotion? The recognition you received from your peer or your supervisor? All of it adds so much value and includes people and what those people mean to you how they have contributed to shaping your life.

We must understand that while systems and structure drive the world, the people make these systems. A country may be run by its government, but it is the people who make the government. And as we are move toward a world driven purely by data and technology, we must not focus on the fact that people still drive the world.

How is this related to me?

Making valuable and meaningful connections will increase the awareness of our existence. Every employee is in the service industry. If you provide your services and get paid for the same, you are your own personal brand. Your growth, of course, is determined by the sum total of your circumstances, team capabilities, resources available, and so on. But, if you are connected with and attract the right kind of people, and they recognize your efforts, you’ll be given a chance, irrespective of your team’s performance or your situation.,/p>

Does that mean networking should be done mindfully? Isn’t it supposed to happen naturally?

Yes and no. This is a tricky question because the answer is a little bit of both. While it is a reality that you come across many people in the course of your job, we don’t consciously put effort into making meaningful connections. And, we don’t make an extra effort to know the next tier of people in the same circle. Learning a little about the fellow humans working alongside you, their strengths, achievements, and life will help you bond with your team efficiently and increase your chances of professional growth. Instead of simply doing what is asked, if you just put in that little extra effort to bond with a team member, your performance will be way more effective. If the situation warrants, we should be ready and able to take up our boss’ role or that of your juniors.

The Indian philosophy talks about the concept of “Vasudeva Kutumbagam,” which translates to “we are one global family.” Imagine your closest friend or closest family member works with you; what would be your comfort level with them? Of course, we do not share everything no matter how close they are, we can maintain that level of diplomacy and distance in matters of a certain nature, but when you smile at them, and when they smile back, the emotion and bond you share will be very real. One must go about life with the perspective that we all came from one and will unite as one and whatever we do, is just for today. This is the biggest lesson our Indian philosophy gives us. Having this in mind will also help you create valuable and meaningful relationships at work. This is becoming a challenge these days because we are connected virtually.

Isn’t networking just for CEOs?

Yes, it is. And my question to you is, aren’t you the CEO of your life? Or are you simply going with the flow? Today, our country needs a generation of leaders who take ownership of their opportunities and responsibilities. But also those who can treat themselves with respect and dignity. Treat each other with love and take care of each other as their own. Plants, animals, birds, and humans alike, and for that to happen, one must lead and grow their career and life like a multinational company—with a vision and processes in place.

  • What is the vision and mission I have for my personal life?
  • What kind of people do I need to attract to reach that destination?
  • Where am I, and where do I begin?

As a famous quote says, “know your limitation and go beyond them.” Begin from wherever you are because you are already on the path to your destination. Just that mindfulness will accelerate your progress tenfold.

If at all you take back anything from this short read, it could be this.

  • Can I lead my own life like a CEO?
  • Can I put in that extra effort to make meaningful connections

Think about it, and do let me know your thoughts.

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Sethuraman Sankaran

Centre head - Bengaluru at Aaseya

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