At the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) Conference, I’ll be delivering a workshop on Building Your Own Professional Network.
Why is this topic – this practice, this lifestyle – so important?
Here’s one reason – a network is more enduring than a company or a job.
We’d all like to believe that our current employer will be around forever, on a perpetual growth vector, and that unlimited opportunities will always be before us on the climb up the ladder.
I have two words for that: Santa Claus.
If I’ve seen nothing else over the last 25 years, it’s that companies rise and fall, jobs appear and disappear, and industries are disrupted at an accelerated pace. When a market dries up or a pink slip appears, who do you have to turn to?
Many people wait until they are in trouble before suddenly scrambling to build connections (we’ve all seen that pattern on LinkedIn, right?). But that’s the wrong time. The right time to build your professional network is 5 years ago, and the second best time is right now. You want to have an opportunity network of great quality people in place long before you need them.
You need to build your network because you cannot rely on companies or markets to take care of you. People help people they know and like. And those relationships develop with conscious, pro-active effort over time. Seek out, meet with, take an interest in other people. Help them achieve their goals. You don’t even have to be an extrovert to network effectively (I’m not – my native tendency is definitely toward introversion). You just have to be intentional.
There is no Santa Claus. But you have a wide open opportunity to build rewarding, long-term relationships with people. Don’t pass it up in favor of putting milk and cookies by the fireplace.
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