We all live in circles of friends, family, co workers and acquaintances. No matter how shy we are, we have to interact with people on a daily basis. Your network of relationships is part of your assets. Assets are things that we have and that contribute positively to our lives, be it professional or personal.
Relationships can be great assets!. Like any other asset you have, it needs energy, time and personal commitment. These relationships are even more crucial when you work in an environment unfamiliar to you as an expat or when you make a career change or start running your own business. It is not enough to have a number of business cards lying on your desk or having a number of “friends” on Facebook. Personal engagement with your network is important on a regular basis. Real and committed engagement is about getting to know each one of them, making a connection. This takes time and a genuine effort to invest in your network.
Creating a strong rapport takes place over time and it requires a strong commitment to add value to the lives of the people you engage with. Walking the extra mile to show appreciation is the personal touch that you can add. Whatever value you can add is all about your personality, your talents and your life experiences. Each interaction will determine how strong your interpersonal skillset is and how confident you are in being able to bring something that your network will value.
Adding value is not a one off thing that you can do at the start of any relationship. It is a continuous process of exchange between two persons. The universal law of giving and receiving ensures that there is a balance and allows for the relationship to be of value to both parties. It is quite unhealthy to be always at the receiving or giving end. It creates frustration, resentment when things go wrong.
Achieving that balance allows you to leverage your network. SME’s are usually run by small teams of 1-3 people at most. Taping into your relationships allows you to have access to a broader range of skills and experiences. You may even create a mastermind group of your peers whose skills set and experience is complementary to yours. For expats, having a wider network allows you to broaden your scope, possibly add value to your new job and they can be the support that you need during the early days of your new life and new career phase.
Your network can definitely be part of your net worth when you regularly engage, add value and leverage your relationships.