Lately I have been so impressed in the power of my network. Not that it's extensive or anything special but it is there for me. Every time I network with someone I've met years ago or last week, I receive information and advice that I could not normally achieve by myself.
Last week, it was the owner of a web design firm in Mesa I met at an ASBA function. Through pure chance, we sat by each other and when I heard her company name, bells went off. I knew this person from some where or some place. After the function, I asked a few questions trying to figure this out. After 10 minutes, we figured it out, it was the AZIPA group. In the time it took to figure this out, I recognized that this business owner operated using the same principles as mine, namely knowledge, work ethic and honesty. We wanted to talk further, so we agreed to meet over coffee the following week.
During the coffee, we discovered we had quite a bit in common besides the markets we serve (and technology we worship). We were both candid and honest. She could give advice and receive it, as easily as could I. We shared what worked, what did not work and what needed work. We were both organizers of a networking group, her at one time and myself right now. It was a great meeting. I gained a ton of advice and perspective completely for free (and because I tried).
This week, I met up with a old colleague from a former consulting gig for lunch. He brought someone along I had not met before. Both work at Intel in Chandler but have some entrepreneurial ambitions. We discussed business development at length and yet again, the conversation led to places I would have never imagined nor achieved on my own. Even though we were interested in different markets, we could relate to the power, depth and variety of our respective networks.
You'll often read that you should dust off your network if you are in the market in the job. You'll often read that building your business requires networking and deep rooted relationships (based in trust). What you don't hear about is how strong your network is. This comes from the diversity, the openness and honesty of those in your network. People you know are ready and willing to tell you just what you need to hear. I recommend you get out there and enjoy it for yourself. It's worth it.