I held a full-time job while I attended Queen’s 15-month Executive MBA program. As well, I continued to support my son with his French homework each day and dealt with some stressful situations including my father-in-law passing away from cancer and our move to a new house. So you can well imagine that I did not spend much time on anything else but school work and on attending to life’s personal trials and tribulations during my MBA stint. As a result, my social life suffered very much. Once I completed my courses and I had some time to reflect (after some payback time to my family and close friends), I realized that I would not get ahead in my career unless I built a social network to help achieve my goals. How to build a network and the importance of relationships in reaching your goals is not a course taught in the MBA.
Completing the MBA constitutes quite an achievement in itself however, what good is an MBA if you don’t use what you have learned and don’t have a network of people to share your knowledge with? Some would say an MBA is something you do for yourself so you can get a promotion and make more money. Sure, that may be the case if you work for a large organization with a career path all mapped out for you. However, I work for a small organization and I already report to the President; there is no promotion or raise waiting for me just for having completed an MBA. Regardless, I enjoy working for a small, nimble, fast-paced and innovative organization that is flexibile and innovative. I am motivated by change and the feeling that I can really make a difference. In order to move forward in my career and help my organization, I need to be connected to the right individuals in the right associations, businesses and within my community as new opportunities will not just happen for me; I need to uncover them.
Keith Ferrazzi in “Never Eat Alone” was extremely inspirational in getting me to realize the importance of networking in order to reach my goals. He provides useful tips on how to build a network of successful individuals. I highly recommend his book. I plan to immediately use some of his advice in order to rebuild my own network and solidify my relationships. Here are some lessons learned from Keith:
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t keep tabs.
-Find your secret sauce (your brand).
-We are all able to contribute content and share knowledge even if what we do is repackage what others have done but in different ways.
-Organize your own events and dinner parties to meet people and help others also meet interesting individuals.
-Speak at conferences, join non-profit boards and become a mentor.
-Be genuine and don’t be afraid to show some vulnerability.
Keith has a very large network of individuals who will take his calls and will be there for him if he needs help. He has built a large quality network through his generosity, his exceptional ability to connect people and his talent. I have a long way to go to make such a claim about my network! I will start with my current networks of acquaintances through Queen’s MBA, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and focus on individuals I need to get to know better. I also need to list the names of additional people I’d like to meet, possible ways to meet them and what I can offer them in return. I need to find a non-profit board and other associations I can join in order to give back. I have much to do in order to build up my network!