There is only so much that any of us can effectively do on our own. No matter how talented, knowledgeable, super-organized or smart any of us are, we do better when we have a good support system. Whenever I speak to a highly effective and successful person, invariably I hear about the strength of their support system. When I work with clients, strengthening or changing their support and network system is usually the one thing that propels them forward the fastest.
There are both practical and fluffy oh-I-feel-so-good reasons to have a good support system. On the less tangible side, it has been said that we become like the 5 people we most commonly associate ourselves with. If we hang out with happy and successful people, we are more likely to be happy and successful. If we hang out with grouchy couch-potatoes, it is next to impossible to get the motivation to dream big, get up and get busy.
On the practical side, a strong support and network system brings knowledge, skills, experience, time and creativity that multiplies exponentially what we bring into the picture. Where will you get a last-minute reliable babysitter or an exercise buddy? How will you get a job when you need one? How will you get to a CEO of a company you are trying to woo as a potential customer? Who will give you feedback about a potential business venture you are putting together - ten of your grizzled old biz veterans who will warn you about a flaw with your product launch, or will you wait until the market itself lets you know with its rather cold and unforgiving way of delivering the "your product sucks" message?
If you were to improve your network, how would you go about it? First, you would decide what your goals are, long term and short term. Then, you would write out the tangible and intangible resources you will need to accomplish those goals. Let's say that your goal was to make $1 million by selling pet rocks in Brazil. Some of the resources you would need would be: start-up capital for manufacturing and advertising, general knowledge of business success, knowledge of Brazilian business laws, understanding of the Brazilian market and buying habits, the ability to communicate in Portuguese, and the unique ways of creating a selling frenzy of a rather useless item. And, of course, you would need a rather large dose of motivation and encouragement to get around the leagues of your friends who would laugh at you for having such a silly idea.
Once you know what resources you will need, plot out what you need and who in your existing network could help you with getting it. "Help" could mean something they know, or it could mean they could refer you to something or someone else who will take you further. "Help" could also mean the intangible benefit of hanging around encouraging, happy and successful folks. Even if you are not going after a specific goal like building a business or becoming more athletic, you will still want to do this exercise to assess the presence of general success traits in your network. This way, you will have a more objective view on who you should be spending more time with and who might not be the best influence on you. (If you want to do this general assessment on your current network, download a PDF sheet from http://www.cprcoaching.com/pdf/network.pdf to help you with this.)
The more specific you are with what you will need, the more likely it is that someone in your network will be able to help. For the items that your current network won't be able to help you with, you brainstorm further on how you can get what you need. Go beyond "research". Identify the names or positions of the people who would have what you need. Brainstorm on how you could get to them. A hint here is: how can you help them with something that is important to them? If you are contacting a celebrity or a super-successful person to ask for help, why should they? Make it easier for people to say "yes" to you by helping them out in some way.
Happy networking, sunshine and smiles,
"Even eagles need a push."
"I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun."
Charles R. Swindoll
"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."