I was watching a couple next to me at the pool this morning while at this luxury resort in which I happen to be staying. The woman would take a ton of photos of her, her husband, and her kid, and immediately post them to Facebook. (Gotta love hotels in the middle of paradise that have poolside WiFi.) Then she’d swim, wait a bit, and repeat the process. About an hour or two into this, she and her husband would look at the comments and likes the photos had generated, and more than once say something like “Oh, Mike Fresco likes the photo of us in the water,” or “Jennifer Prescott likes the one of us next to the ocean.” This would be followed by a lively debate between the couple, the subject being “Who is Mike Fresco,” or “How do we know Jennifer Prescott?” (Names made up.) Not once did I hear any of these debates come to a satisfying resolution.
In other words, this couple had a ton of friends on Facebook, and more than likely, didn’t know more than half of them.
It it got me thinking about something I’ve said before:
Our network is only as strong as the weakest connection in it.
What do I mean? Well, think about it – If we don’t know people in our network, what the hell are they doing there? If we don’t know our network intimately, there’s no point in having a network to begin with.
Why? Because by having a network with which we don’t communicate, we’re wasting the one limited, and most valuable resource we have: Time.
By keeping people in our network who we don’t talk to on a regular basis, people with whom we don’t engage, people with whom we don’t have an active back-and-forth connection, we weaken our network, and make it almost useless.
So I offer you a challenge today. Go onto Facebook, and scroll through your “friends.” Find ten people in your network you haven’t talked to in a year. Either research what they’ve been up to and reconnect with them in a meaningful way, (as in, hey Toby, I noticed you got a promotion last month! Congratulations! Let me take you to lunch sometime soon to catch up and connect!”) Or – unfriend them.
If you can’t find anything meaningful to talk to them about, why are they in your network? They’re wasting your time, and you’re wasting theirs.
Your network is one of the most valuable professional and personal tools you have. Don’t cheapen it. Don’t weaken it. Don’t let it die, over-saturated with people who don’t matter to you, and to whom you don’t matter.
A network is a living, breathing organism. If you don’t feed it, tend to it, and constantly work to make it stronger, it will die, and in the process, take you with it.
How else can you strengthen and grow your network to become a more effective tool, both personally and professionally? Tell me in the comments.