Building Your Professional Network

By Jenn Alessi

06/20/16

In the agency business, relationships are a critical ingredient to success. They can lead to freelance resources, future employees, industry associations and event involvement, and, of course, new business. This is hardly the only line of work in which this is the case. However, I’m often asked how a professional network gets built. The quick response is that there is no “one size fits all” answer.

The easiest explanation I can offer may seem too simple–contribute to others. Nevertheless, I feel it’s the key to nourishing one’s own life. I look at it in this way: Ours is increasingly a “me first” world, especially in the United States. Many, in my view, awaken each morning with an eye toward what they can get, as opposed to give. To do the latter, to them, borders on the senseless.

Imagine pursuing the former though. What if any given day was about giving? How would that look? More importantly, how would it feel? To me, it takes the appearance of bringing value, as best I can, to every encounter — no matter who the person or what their situation in life. First of all, I’m no better than anyone else. Secondly, I get to authentically connect, beyond what is customary, with those in the world around me. The result is a sense of belonging and goodness.

For such a basic model, these feelings are quite a reward. They inspire you to do more and be more–and this touches every domain of your life, including the composition and functionality of your professional network. Additionally, when we are less than our ideal selves–those moments when we’re tempted to embrace “What’s in it for me?” thinking -belonging and goodness remind us how abundant life is when we come back to “What’s in it for them?” and embody it.