Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Value of Networks

Kevin Wheeler has another of his insightful posts on ERE today which caught my attention for a couple of reasons: (1) his name was attached to it, and (2) he was talking about what brings real value to a network, the latter, of course, being not only close to my heart, but part of what we feel is a major part of our DNA here at ExecuNet.

Certainly the entire article is worth reading for sure, but as you might well have guessed already, one of the key points he makes is that that all too often people (and in this case he is talking about recruiters, but the concept applies equally as well to anyone no matter what their profession) is that like anything else in life, it really is far more about quality than quantity, or as he puts it in part:

"They judge themselves and others as "successful" by how many people are in their network."
Surprise, surprise? Not!

Of course Kevin is right as I would guess most readers know based on their own life experiences, irrespective of their professional lives.

What continues to amaze me however, even after all these years is that even though I think most people understand this on an intellectual level, there are still those who feel that collecting names electronically or physically is as Kevin says about quantity not quality. In some cases it starts to sound like the LinkedIn Olympics.

This, of course, is not to say that LI is not a valuable resource, it most certainly is, but the gathering of thousands of names from the 15 million profiles or whatever it is these days be it on LI or one of the other "social networks" does not translate to a network that is really meaningful on a personal level.

When it comes to the care and feeding of a real network and most especially one which has to do with helping to maintain or advance and enhance one's professional career, it's not about numbers as such, it's about relationships that have been built over time so that when your name comes up, the words that flash across people's minds are descriptors such as: trust, respect, insightful, helpful, bright, responsive, and supportive and/or a long list of other adjectives that any of us could add.

So, if you are going to use numbers as a metric in terms of your network, I would count words, not names.

No comments: