I, personally, think there is a key to unlocking the potential of your social network. Here’s what I mean: For a social network to thrive as a collection of mutually beneficial relationships, you must focus on other people. If you and I are consumed with serving our own needs in peer-relationships, we’ve lost the whole “mutually beneficial” component.
I feel I just wrote a paragraph on “how to succeed in marriage.” I suppose it’s true for most all adult relationships: If you focus on caring for others (within boundaries and most contexts, of course), the natural byproduct is other well-intentioned individuals wanting to help with your success. For better or worse, that’s just the way it is.
Let’s brainstorm practical ways to focus on others:
- Ask your boss to relay her work-related goals, and if applicable, focus your attention on working toward achieving them.
- If you are asked for advice, constructive criticism, or suggestions, you can provide honest, helpful information and resources. The alternative is choosing to withhold information in order to stunt the growth of your peer.
- Choose to be encouraging, kind, and helpful to others.
- Practice good listening skills in order to demonstrate respect for others. Read AFB CareerConnect’s Communicating on the Job article for the specifics.
- Demonstrate genuine care and concern for others in the midst of difficult times.
- Introduce others who would benefit from connecting, such as a job-seeker you can honestly recommend to a hiring manager.
- Put effort into learn people’s names and job titles. I’m not suggesting recognizing individuals by sight or voice if you are blind or visually impaired, but knowing who works where and that ‘Jimmy stocks materials’/ ‘Laura cleans the office on Fridays’ helps people know you think they are important.
- Don’t monopolize conversations.
- Be aware of what others need from you. If it’s in everyone’s best interest, meet their expectations. Your office-mate probably needs you to stay relatively quiet so he can work without distractions. The peers in your group project need you to complete your portion well and on time. Your juniors need clear expectations, encouragement, and support in reaching their potential.
In a nutshell, I’m saying what you learned in first grade: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. It’s golden. Take care of others, and others will take care of you.
Now go, a strong social network awaits…