Your Network Is Your Net Worth
Insights and learnings from LMF Life Skills Summit 2022
Today’s world is more connected than ever before, but it’s also harder to make meaningful connections with people. Why? People use social media as a news feed, not a place to build genuine relationships. People are too busy for face-to-face networking events and don’t realise how valuable those events can be.
In a world where we are all connected all the time virtually, it’s important to find your network in real life. So what is a network, and how does it become your net worth? One of the panels I attended recently answered this question.
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On July 21st and 22nd, the LMF Network organised an extremely comprehensive Life Skills Summit as part of its mission to build the careers and confidence of 25,000 people by 2025.
On the ‘Your network is your net worth’ panel, there were three exciting panellists:
- David Savage is the award-winning Group Technology Evangelist for Nash Squared and is responsible for helping shape and share the best thoughts and insight into people and technology. He is the editor and host of Tech Talks, the long-running technology leadership podcast with 20,000 monthly streams.
- Jessica Williams-Chadwick, Head Cheerleader at Rock Salt Consulting Ltd, is a networker, writer, mother, connector, friend, and cheerleader that helps women be more visible online. Her career has taken a few squiggly™️ turns, via TEFL teaching, proofreading, writing, editing and marketing, to end up in content creation strategy.
- Lou Nylander is the Founder of Wildflowers of London, a social enterprise focused on empowering women. She has fifteen years of B2B digital marketing experience and has launched her marketing consultancy dedicated to supporting founders and entrepreneurs.
The discussion started by answering this question…
What is a network?
We are all a part of many different networks. A network is a group of like-minded people — with shared interests, values and passions. They are the people who will support you in your goals and help you achieve success. From helping you build your confidence or simply being the person you look up to and are inspired by.
Networks should be chosen very carefully because they can have a huge impact on your life and success. Once you have found your network, they will be there for you every step along the way!
But even if you’ve found your network or are already an extrovert who thrives on meeting new people in person, there’s room for improvement when it comes to building and utilising your network
Your network can help you gain employment, get experience or new clients.
In addition to helping you find a job, your network can help you find one that’s perfect for you. It’s important to remember that your career is not just about finding a job — it’s about finding a career. That may sound like just semantics, but it really matters. The kind of career that makes you happy and fulfilled is different from what makes someone else happy and fulfilled. Ask yourself:
- What do your skills say about the type of work that fits?
- Are there any values or personality traits that would be better suited for this position than others?
- How does this role fit into your life as a whole?
To get answers to these questions and make sure you are making the right decision for yourself, consider talking with someone who has been in similar situations before. Many people would be glad to offer their advice, whether it’s an old tutor, former colleague, or even someone from another industry with some expertise in the area.
Once you know where you want to be, your network can help you gain employment, get experience, or onboard new clients through referrals.
Lou shared that:
The last couple of jobs that I’ve got, I have got via referrals, and now that I’ve set up my own marketing consultancy business, I also have got a lot of my clients through referrals. It’s (networking) been pivotal in my career.
A community can be found online or in person.
A network is a group of people who share common values and interests. When you’re part of a community, you can belong to something greater than yourself.
Communities help us grow, learn and be more resilient; they make us happier and more productive. In fact, one of the best ways to create new opportunities for yourself is by connecting with others in your field or industry who are doing great work!
You can find your community online through social media such as LinkedIn or networking events or conferences in person. Whichever way you choose to do it, remember that most people like to talk about themselves, so ask the people you want to connect with about a project they led or cause they are passionate about. It is as simple as starting a conversation, as David explained:
What I’ve learnt is that you can dress these things up to make them feel like they are difficult disciplines or something you have to learn. When actually, if you scale it back to just having a one-on-one conversation with someone, being authentic and trying to them something, actually it’s quite a natural process.
Here are some examples to get you started:
- I’ve noticed you did ‘x’. Can we meet for a coffee to discuss how you did this?
- I saw your speech on ‘x’. Your point on ‘x’ really stuck in my mind; could you tell me more about this?
- I really enjoyed our conversation about ‘x’ the other day. I would love to talk more over a coffee; I’m keen to pick your brain more on ‘x’
- Can I join the conversation? (This is my go-to at networking events, especially when I want to speak to someone who is constantly engaged in other conversations during events)
Connections should be mutually beneficial.
Networking is about building relationships — with people who can teach you, help you find opportunities or simply provide an outlet for your ideas and passions.
However, it’s important to remember that relationships are not transactional in nature. While some people may think of networking as a one-way transaction (in which they only benefit from the relationship), this isn’t always true.
Relationships between peers should be mutually beneficial: both parties stand to gain something valuable from each other’s knowledge, expertise and resources.
Ask yourself and note down ahead of attending an event — what do I have or know that would be beneficial for someone else?
When networking with others at an event or online, keep in mind that being authentic is key! Remember that these are real people you’re interacting with; don’t just fake interest in their work or pretend they matter more than they do if they don’t actually mean all that much to you (or vice versa).
If someone doesn’t interest you enough to want them on your personal network list, then don’t add them. Doing so will only create friction later when they start asking questions about what kind of professional opportunities might be out there for them — and chances are good that those opportunities won’t exist unless there’s mutual trust between their needs and yours first!
Jess shared a top tip for networking:
Get your profile sorted…if you’re really clear on what your messaging is, who you want to talk to and what you’re going to say to them, it makes it [networking] much easier and to share your information. Your profiles are like your shop front…so once you get this sorted, it feels so much better directing people there. So instead of you talking, you can let your profiles do the talking for you.
People need connections to thrive, yet many have difficulty connecting in a meaningful way. You can build your network by thinking about the 5 C’s: content, career, community, connections and being consistent.
The 5 C’s of building a network are critical for career and self-improvement, but they’re also important for networking and having fun. For example, content is the foundation of your network and career, but it’s also the foundation of your community, connections and consistency.
Networking is one of the most effective ways to improve our lives by finding the right job, having fun with like-minded people, or even making friends who share our interests or goals.
There are so many ways to build a network, but the most important thing is that you’re consistent. The more time and energy you put into making connections with others, the faster your network will grow. And remember: everyone has something valuable to share with others — even if it’s just their point of view or unique experiences!
This blog contribution was made by Preiti Randhawa.
Preiti is a Certified Scrum Master with 7+ years of experience in professional B2B and B2C services, both agency and client-side, where she has continuously driven exceptional client services and business operations.
She has a knack for identifying better ways of working, implementing improvements, problem-solving and generally takes pride in ensuring clients, colleagues, and the business as a whole are performing to the best of its abilities.
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What is LMF Network?
The LMF Network is an education careers platform bridging skills and the gender gap. We know it will take 257 years to achieve gender parity, but that’s too long. Our community trust us to support their development needs, build their confidence and align ourselves with trusted, inclusive partners who can nurture and grow talent to progress in their careers. We’ve upskilled 20,000 people in 3 years — we know what we are fighting for and need your help in creating true equitable change.