I’ve been reading Seth Godin‘s newest book, “Linchpin“. In it he talks about the value of being indispensable. Basically, if you aren’t, you’d better watch out, because there are a lot of people out there willing to do your job for cheaper.

Now, whether you are indispensable in your business or job is up to you to determine. One of the things that can help you, though, is a powerful extended network.

When a new project is starting in your department, do you know who would be valuable to have on the team? When you want to break into a new market, do you know people who live in the region who would be willing to help out? When your company is looking for a new supplier, do you know who they should call?

The more people you know and the more information you can bring to the table, the more valuable you are to everyone. The trick is this: You must be willing to share. A network is valuable only in its use. Hoarding your relationships is like refusing to pick the fruit from the tree. Sooner or later everything begins to spoil and no one gets any benefit from that.

Having skills that other people need is a good start, but it’s only a start. Unless you can set yourself up as being completely unique, it’s highly likely that someone else will be willing to do your job for less pay. Your network, though, can’t be duplicated. It’s strength and the people and resources you can call on through that network is what can really set you apart.

Photo credit: Patrick Hajzler