By: Will Baggett, @W_Baggs
You reap what you sow. It’s Biblical.
In grade school, teachers emphasize the importance of the three R’s; those being reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Unfortunately, you probably did not learn the fourth and arguably most important “R” until you began your professional career…relationships.
Your grade point average may have been foremost with the traditional R’s, but the minute you hoisted your graduation cap into the air, it immediately became supplemental data. Nevertheless, maintaining good relationships with your instructors probably did not hurt your chances of making the grades you sought. Thus, you have had a working knowledge of the power of relationships for quite some time. It just takes precedence now.
Think of relationships as fertile earth in which you plant seeds to make for rich harvests throughout your career. Anything intended for growth must be rooted in fertile ground; and your career ascension is no exception. So as your growth takes place above the surface, remain mindful of the intricate network of roots anchoring you from below. As in, the maturation of your career is likely attributed to your relationships running deeper and strengthening your foothold in your field.
With each new acquaintance, you are making an impression in the soil of someone’s psyche. In doing so, you are inserting seeds specific to your professional acumen in hopes they will one day bear good fruit. Consistent with the preceding installments of The Process, these seeds are infused with your foundation, brand, and mentality. Merely planting the seeds, however, is only half the battle. Unless they are nurtured, these seeds will never sprout and naturally grow your network.
Further, if “your network is your net worth,” the underlying assumption is that there is a rich harvest to be garnered from growing your coalition of colleagues. With respect to net worth, or the resultant gains of one’s harvest, maybe the person who coined the term “green thumb” was thinking along these same lines. Make cents? Sorry, couldn’t resist.
At some point in your career, you have likely heard the following phrase in some form: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know and who knows you.” Taking it a step further, it begs the question, who are you aligned with? Association breeds similarity, so if you align yourself with successful people, you will likely be the next.
By the same token, be mindful of the importance of building rapport with actual people as opposed to their job titles. Your relationships must be embedded in the hearts and minds of the people in your network. In this way, when one of them uproots for a new job, you will not be left behind in the vacated dirt plot of their former position. Similar to professional player trades and collegiate student-athlete transfers, the name on the front of the jersey may change, but the one on the back is carried from place to place. Don’t get left behind.
Be genuine in your efforts to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships because people perceive parasitic persons positioned to pounce on their prosperity. (I apologize if you read that aloud as you are likely wiping off your screen by now.) In other words, astute professionals are cognizant of relationships that have the potential to become one-sided.
That is not to say you are expected to be on equal footing with everyone you encounter, however. This would defeat the very purpose of networking. Nonetheless, you should at minimum bring developable assets to the table that will yield a mutual return for those who elect to invest their time and resources into your career. In other words, if you want to help others help you; don’t bring sunflower seeds to the potluck. Instead, sow seeds in your field that are destined to sprout and one day bear good fruit.
Once your career blossoms, the fruits of your labor will be ripe for the picking.
And so the harvest begins…
Thank you for your support of this four-part series. If you have missed any of the preceding installments, please give them a read. Feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback. And stay tuned, there is more to come.