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It is important to always remember that you don’t have to do it alone and that teamwork makes the dream work.
If you have been alive for any period of time, you have heard the expression “it’s not what you know but who you know.” The idea is that you don’t have to know everything, you have simply have to know people and the world will be your oyster. As an entrepreneur, it is important to develop a good professional network. At the same time, it is important to develop a good personal network. Of course, from time to time, those networks cross paths and the personal helps the professional or the professional helps the personal.
I am spearheading an after-school program for children in our area. The children come to our church, get a drink and a snack, and then get help with their homework. The program is open to all school students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. We are in the first week of operating the program and have two teachers and one retired teacher who signed on as volunteers this week.
Recently, I attended a community celebration. Entrepreneurs from all over the small village where I live gathered to show off their businesses. Among those in attendance was a representative from the local Rotary Club. Did you know that among other things, the Rotary Club gives out dictionaries to school children? I did not know this.
I spoke with the Rotary Club member about my after-school program. The Rotary Club member invited me to speak with the club at their upcoming lunch. I gave a short talk to the club members and asked them to provide dictionaries to the students in the program. I am so happy to announce that on the spot the members voted to give us the dictionaries and offered to get more for us if the need arises! One of the members had a friend who is a retired school teacher. She asked if I needed extra volunteers. Of course, we could use more volunteers. I do not have a large network of school teachers and those qualified to help school students. This Rotary Club member gave my phone number to her retired teacher friend who called me and then showed up to volunteer with all the appropriate clearances in hand.
The retired school teacher has a network of educators and was able to give assistance to one of my volunteers who was looking for a teaching position. The woman looking for the teaching position left the after-school program happy and excited about potential employment opportunities. This is a real-world example that shows what you know doesn’t matter. Who you know matters. In this case, I knew a woman who knew a woman who knew some women who can help another woman.
Education is important, period. You need to get all you can and can all you get. I went to school and successfully obtained a Juris Doctorate degree. My eldest child is a senior at one of the best colleges in the country. I push my children to read, learn, and do well in school. I share this information to show that I value education. At the same time, no one person can know everything. This means it is important to build a network of people who know things you do not and have relationships you do not.
Networking is important because it creates connections and builds bridges. Networking is and should be seen as a two-way street. Never think that networking is all about what other people can do for you. Think about what you can do for others in your networks. Networks are the strongest and most powerful when everyone works for the benefit of everyone in the network. In other words, even if you are a selfish person who doesn’t care at all about other people, your life will be better when you help those in your network. When you help others, they will have a desire to help you.
Networking can be thrilling for you and those around you. So the question for you this thrilling day is what are you doing to make y our network better?