Equally, I know countless people who have little to offer the business world on the face of it – but their friends, family and friends of family have put them in places simply unavailable to their less well-connected peers.
This is clearly not fair. But business is sadly not about fair.
Conversely, I don’t believe this issue is insurmountable.
I like to consider myself very well connected. I have an address book of thousands but it didn’t just happen and it was certainly, in my case anyway, nothing to do with birthright.
Connections are generally made over long periods of time. Unless you are lucky enough to be born with the silver spoon and little black book intact (and some are, of course), you have to work at it relentlessly.
The best contacts are those that you can also help. This process should never be regarded as point-scoring.
The “pay it forward” principle, evoked in the film of the same name (ie: for every good deed done for you, you must do three positive things for others), is a good one. This approach of asking how you can help other people has been very fruitful indeed for me. When I have needed help personally, or for my family, my network has been simply fabulous. Not least, in securing internships for my children in a difficult economic climate. And in that particular case, I “re-credited my account” by being able to give that person an excellent and lucrative contract. He neither asked nor expected this, but I wanted and was able to do it – and know it’s appreciated.
Networks are mercurial. You need work to maintain and grow them. Used properly, they can can be the difference between success and failure.
Jo Haigh is head of corporate finance for Corporate Finance Services. She can be contacted on 01274 868 958/07850 475878 or at Jo.email@example.com
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