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July 2012

Your Networking Business Model

The new realities of this chaotic world have forced every business and every organization to examine the basic assumptions of their business models. Smart ones are furiously re-structuring to figure out how to survive and grow. Clear that business as usual is obviously dead and is killing many stubborn industries, companies and organizations. A mindset of--"Can't wait until we get back to normal"-is destroying the careers and prospects of individuals as well. People who have stopped evolving and waiting for the world to accommodate them are making fatal judgments.

Whether you are a new college grad or someone re-tooling for the next chapter, you need a new model. You need to question and reset your goals, metrics, and assumptions. Please do not interpret this as a scaling back of your aspirations or a lowering of your sights. But we have to eliminate any shred of the yearning for the days gone by. There is no normal that will return. It is gone and it was replaced with change and more change.

Adapt or Die!

This is not just about the fittest and the fastest--although it's good to be both. It is about adopting and embracing the need to constantly and continuously change. Not just improve, but change.

With this in mind, you have to re-engineer your career business model, your networking business model. What you want is to have the tools and temperament to not only endure but excel through transitions.  Good to Great Hedgehog

I have always loved Jim Collins'  Hedgehog model from Good to Great. As an organization: You have to have Passion. A desire to be the Best. An Economic Engine/model that sustains and grows you. And in the nexus of all parts you have to have a BHAG---Big Hairy Audacious Goal. 

These powerful concepts are very relevant to one's career as well. But in the spirit of getting you from good to great, I have interpreted and adapted this model by adding dimensions more applicable to you, the individual and to the world today.

I always see my networking model as a constellation of factors and elements that influence the gravitational pull of my career. All of them orbit around my network. Since my network is not static these orbits and dimensions have and will change. These factors or values comprise my business model:

  • My Network:This is the platform for everything. Your family, friends, connections, and contacts influence everything. The more robust and diverse this platform of human interconnections is, the more robust your opportunities will be.
  • My Passion(s):What you love and truly care about has to drive your world. Nurturing and feeding the issues, causes, pleasures, and joys that give you energy and emotional sustenance has to be a big part of your life. (The pink circles are your curiosities or interests that could become passions)
  • Mentor(s):Identifying and maintaining relationships with the people who will give you the truth about  you. Not cheerleaders but honest purveyors of tough love. 
  • Money:We all need financial resources to live and to enjoy our lives. How much and how big this planet is in your constellation should probably change with time and priorities. Understanding the difference between money and how we get paid in our lives is gigantic. More money for the sake of more money does not make sense. So having very specific goals around how much money you need make this model work the best. 
  • My SKA (Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities): This is your toolbox. It deserves constant and continuous attention. Knowing yourself and your talents, your strengths, and your weaknesses is critical. Sharpening what is there and adding new tools. Then becoming the best you can be.

Networking Business Model

Purpose: From all of these elements and your dedication to pursue them with courage and conviction, purpose and meaning emerge. Leading an authentic life of understanding yourself by understanding others. Pursuing your passions with passion. Defining your work and your worth selflessly. And then everything defines your pupose--the meaning of your life. It is not your job or even your career. It is is the way you live, how you live, who you help, and the difference you make. 

The key here is building your model on a growing and dynamic platform--your network. A network that enhances these elements. Connecting and reconnecting with people that help you focus and advance your goals and your constellation of opportunities. A network that you help without expectation or obligation. A network that makes you better by holding you accountable and inspiring you to do more.

Isn't it time to evaluate your model? How does your model look? And how do you want to change it? What elements are lacking and need to be stronger? What elements are more solid and reliable? You are in control of this model and your challenge is always, in every moment, actively managing and adapting it to who you are becoming and the need of the world around you. 

Thanks for reading. John

 


Insurance of Your Pre-existing Network

I was talking to my relatives in Italy. We were comparing notes on the relative (no pun intended) virtues of our countries. Since they have lived in both countries, they had an advantage in evaluating both. My cousin's wife said, "you have the pursuit of happiness and we have the guarantee of health. She asked, How do you pursue happiness without your health? Here's what the Italian Constitution says:

The Republic safeguards health as a fundamental right of the individual and as a collective interest, and guarantees free medical care to the indigent.

Here was the interesting part for me. When you have a pre-existing condition in Italy you will get medical treatment/care for life! The exact reverse of what we think in the US. A pre-existing condition is a bad thing. It is to be avoided. It will trigger exclusions of your insurance, especially if you change jobs. In Italy, as it relates to insurance and medical treatment, a pre-existing condition is a good thing. It assures you and your family that you will have the medical care you need.

Not here to debate these systems, but perspective is a powerful tool.

Clearly when you have insurance, you have confidence. When you have confidence, you have courage. When you have courage you have the opportunity to become fulfilled and happy.

Each of us has pre-existing conditions of our lives. We have to accept the facts, idiosyncrasies, and attributes of our lives. Sometimes we think of these things as liabilities, as things we should hide or ignore. We know that every liability can also be an asset. One of the most overlooked assets is our pre-existing network of friends and family. It is an under-utilized resource. We seek the new over the tried and true. Why? As Seth Godin says, we tend to like the shiny over the known. Like the youthful and naive sales rep who thinks new customers are the only source of a strong business. We know that most business comes from our existing base of customers and connections. And you gain the new connections through the existing ones--we usually call this word-of-mouth. For some reason we ignore this logic when it comes to our careers.

Connecting with people we know is so much easier --People with whom we have a relationship. But human nature is to think we already know them, when it is virtually certain we do not--because we have not engaged them in the specifics of our quests. We are seeking connections to opportunities at companies, employers, people who are doing what we want to do etc. It is truly amazing who people know and how they know them. Tennis partners, church goers, school parents, college roommates, neighbors, colleagues......never underestimate the breadth of another's network and therefore your pre-existing one.

Your desire to redefine your life, get a new job, go back to school or start something should push you back into your existing contacts. Fewer excuses to talk to people you know. Almost everyone procrastinates meeting new people, because it takes effort and overcoming fear. But talking to people you know to be introduced to who they know is easy and even fun. Don't make this an All About Me mission. You catch up with people, you offer to help them and you engage them in your objectives. Plus your network wants to help you. And you want to help them.

The key is being introduced. Never just get a contact from someone. Always get your contact to introduce you through email or a phone call. Warm hand offs eliminate cold calling.

Your best and most effective insurance plan for the health of your future lies in your pre-existing network. It is a great source of confidence and courage. Mine it. Explore it. Strengthen it. It will help you advance your goals, expand your network, and reconnect you with people you care about.

Thanks for reading. John