What Good is Your Network?

September 17, 2013

pandas290More directly, what is your network? A bunch of people you have fleeting or other connections with, hooked up by coffees, or more ephemerally, via an image and a bio stored in someone else’s server? And if so what merit does it have?  Is it there so you can admire the fruits of your labour? Is it posted as an assurance to self  that you haven’t burned too many bridges? Maybe even the virtual version is a trophy wall on which you can brag your own accomplishments. A de facto CV of sorts. It’s all of these things and then some, isn’t it?  But what good is that network? Does it have any substantive merit? And if it does, how do you measure its worth?

Like anything you have built (software, teams, garden shed) you have no idea about its true integrity until it’s put through a stress test.  And the best and most assured stress test of a network is to declare, out of nowhere that you, the former employer of people, lander on feet, never unemployed, are now looking for work. And somewhat urgently at that.  As I sit drinking a coffee I’m not sure I can afford, and reflect on what has happened to my network over the last few weeks, there are forty seven different lines of enquiry running. There will be some more initiated shortly – you have been warned. But what a remarkable response from those forty seven.

All of them have responded magnanimously and with compassion and generosity, even when I have reconnected with them via the rather clinical Linkedin after years of absence. And even in one or two cases where our separation was tinged with pain – usually a workplace disconnection. They have made calls, interviewed their bosses on my behalf, introduced me to their own networks and made appointments to have coffee with me to make sure they have the latest picture. And to swap war stories too of course.  They have suggested points of fine tuning on the CV, regaled me with wisdom gained from their own job hunting and in every case have encouraged me to hang in there – even the least spiritually inclined assure me everything has a season and there is good reason for things happening the way they do.

What good is my network? When it wraps me up in the fabric of their humanity and their concern, when it reflects their generosity, and when it goes an unasked, unprompted extra mile to encourage and reassure me, it’s very, very good indeed.


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