You know more about them than this, right?

Is your network a network or just a list of names?

What I mean is, if you suddenly decided to leave your current job or business right now (or someone else decided it for you), would you still be able to call upon your network for assistance?

If you are connecting with the folks around you properly, those relationships should still be yours even after you stop being a widget salesperson. Here are a few questions you can ask about the people in your network that might help you gauge whether it is a network or just a mailing list.

  1. Do they know your name? Seems kind of basic, but if all they know is that you are their insurance agent, then the relationship isn’t personal, it’s positional. That means when you no longer have the position, they don’t know you anymore.
  2. Do you know their face? If you look at the list of names in your “network” can you attach a face to the name? If not, you really can’t say you’ve developed any sort of relationship, can you?
  3. Do you know if they are married? If you’ve developed any sort of personal relationship, you’ll probably know at least some of the basics about their personal life.
  4. Do you know them? A stronger network is made up of stronger connections. Do you know what they do for a living? Do you know what their goals are both professionally and personally?
  5. How have you helped them recently? I don’t mean that you provided your good or service to them when they paid you. What I mean is, have you learned enough about them to know how you can help beyond just selling them widgets? Have you forwarded an article to them that would be of specific interest to them? Did you call them on their birthday?
Many of us, in the course of pursuing our livelihoods, connect with people — clients, employees, vendors — on a regular basis. That’s good. Unfortunately, most people only reach out for their immediate self-interest. Basically, they call or email or send smoke signals in hopes of getting that client to buy again or giving that employee a project or placing an order with that vendor.
If we take a moment, though, to go a little further, to find out a little more, to find some small way to make their life better, who knows?
We might develop a network that will support us in whatever we hope to achieve.