Jim Rohn is quoted as saying "you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Take a look around your inner circle. Does it consist of people just like you in similar places in their career? If so, that's a sign that you probably need to expand your network. Nothing replaces the comfort of having that handful of best friends who you spend a lot of time with. They're the ones who you call when shit gets real and you know they'll listen without judgement and offer unbiased advice. But somewhere along the line, we stop making new connections and become content with our core group. I've heard some people say that you should "ditch your friends and get new ones", but I disagree with that. You should just add to them! The importance of expanding your social circle, at any age, cannot be understated.
New friendships boost your health and happiness, provide new a prospective and often times offer a clean slate. As we go through life, we continue to evolve and grow. That doesn't mean that we all evolve and grow at the same pace, so it's important to also surround yourself with influences who are at a similar pace so that you don't become stagnant in your business, career, or life.
Here are 4 simple ways to organically expand your network and continue to expand as you grow.
1. Connect with your existing network.
We have automated so much today... even some of our interactions with others. When you get a personalized text, email, or phone call from someone that you know is specifically for YOU, doesn't that make you smile? I'm all about putting smiles on faces and it's an easy way to organically expand your network while maintaining healthy relationships with those in your existing network. Start going through those connections, reaching out, saying hi and simply wishing them a wonderful year ahead. It's easy to be anti-social these days with all of the scrolling, swiping, and liking that we do. It's time that you truly connect. Get out there. NETWORK! For the purpose of this blog, let's take a look at your LinkedIn profile (if you add me, you better say hey!) How many connections do you have? Now, how many of them do you personally know? Have you ever introduced yourself to ALL of them? I would be willing to bet that there's some room for improvement there. Draft up a simple, short message saying hello and asking your contacts how they are doing and offer up some support to them. This can also be done with other social media outlets and is highly encouraged. It's incredible how powerful such a simple message can be and how many smiles you can put on people's faces by taking time to reach out to them personally. You will be #shooketh.
2. Join a women's network.
Where my ladies at?! Not that I don't believe men can help you grow, women really need to have each other's back, and it's much easier to connect with women these days given all the #metoo movements that have begun bringing women even closer together. To connect with women on your level, I recommend that you consider joining a women's network. Doing this has been a HUGE part of my growth (when I use the tools) because the network is filled with women who all have common growth goals and it's an instant support system with additional perks like exclusive events, webinars, and articles. The Ellevate Women's Network is a great place to start for these perks because it's a global network with chapters in cities all across the world. Many organizations and universities/alumni associations also have a local women's network that you can join and many of the networks are also beginning to offer mentor programs. Not only will you have the opportunity to expand your professional network, but you will create deeper relationships with women who have common goals and a shared desire to improving not only at work, but in their personal, everyday life.
3. Attend local networking events.
This used to make me cringe because I'm an introvert and talking to a bunch of strangers gave me anxiety! What do I talk about? What do I ask? Take a step back and think about what you bring to the table. Who are you? What is your story? Why do you do what you do? Being comfortable with your past, sharing your story and being #straightup with people will get you far. Networking is all about making connections. What better way to connect with people than sharing with them more about WHY you do what you do, versus handing out your generic business card and rattling off the shit you're responsible for each day? That is boring AF and no one will care to remember that. I recommend going with a friend so you can at least know one familiar face, peep the scene, decide who you're interested in getting to know, and work the room. I always make it a point to go talk to the person who seems to attract everyone in the room to them, that I tend to be most intimidated by. 9 times out of 10, the person I would have assumed to be "too good to talk to me" or "looks like a total bitch" is actually the complete opposite and we have good conversation.
4. Find a local women's social club.
Social organizations like The Coterie are a great way to meet new women in Houston. This club bonds women keen on developing new friendships and exploring the city through curated events. Their members get together monthly for everything from dinner and drinks, events around the city, character building workshops and so much more. This group is unique in the fact that they operate in private rotations. Meaning you'll always be meeting with the same group giving you the perfect opportunity to forge a new connection. Seeing more of the city and always having someone to do that with is a great benefit. The friendships we've grown and an extended group of diverse women to catch a happy hour with after work isn't too shabby either.
Be patient with yourself and embrace the daily opportunities you have to practice. If I can help you at all, reach out to me and let's talk!
Now get out there and WERK! You got this, girl.
We would love to hear your thoughts. Which networking tip are you going to take and implement this week? Leave your response directly below in the comments.
Tamara Washington is the Founder and Creative Director of The Coterie, a social organization that assembles women for exciting events throughout Houston and exclusive personal development opportunities. She believes that a robust social life is an essential piece of the character of a well rounded individual and fosters an environment where women build genuine connections through curated experiences.
Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a personal coaching session with Brittanni here.