While talking about career transitions and social networking this week, one individual asked me (and here I’m paraphrasing) what was the one thing to do above all others in building an opportunity network.

The answer that came out surprised even me at first. It has nothing to do with tactics, or specific social platforms.

I said to Sara that you have to believe. You need a gut-level conviction that building a network is the most important professional endeavor you can undertake.

And I do believe that. I think I gave it lip service for much of my career, because networking equaled schmoozing in my mind, and frankly, I am not a schmoozer. But it was the early days of LinkedIn that opened my eyes to the potential power of networks – and the massive advantage of a hybrid approach marrying digital technology to personal relationships.

Each step along the way – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – has grown that belief. But it has been getting past the pre-meeting stage which digital tools facilitate, and getting eye-to-eye, mind-to-mind, and heart-to-heart with people that has utterly convinced me. When friends are made, and opportunities opened up, and lives changed through these connections – well, it’s awfully hard not to believe.

You’ll read a thousand blog posts about the tactics, or the higher-level strategies, of using social networks. There’s a ton of noise about specific tools. I’m going to point you to the one thing that is foundational and drives the rest.

Believe. And if your faith is a little shaky right now, feel free to borrow some of mine. I have a lot of stories to tell – and so do a bunch of other people I can point you to.


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

3 Responses to Believe

  1. Amen. In my rarely humble opinion, belief in the value and power of online social networks cannot be separated from belief in the value and power of authentic relationship.

    If I’ve learned anything — and I’ve learned lots in the 3+ years I’ve been on Twitter — it’s that virtual community is real community. Virtual community is not a metaphor for anything. It’s yet another manifestation of ongoing human engagement. I’ve seen this in the health and healthcare communities with which I actively participate (e.g., #hcsm, #hpm, #mccsm). I’ve also seen community emerge in compelling and delightful ways among people of faith who, thanks to Twitter, are now communicating across religious denominations.

    All this is to say I agree gazillion percent with your assertion that, “building a network is the most important professional endeavor you can undertake.” Amen, again!

  2. Bret Simmons says:

    Love it, Steve! Networking, building relationships, growing your brand by helping others with things that matter to them – it’s all activity based. You learn by doing, but if you do nothing you learn nothing. At that point, all you can do is blame others for your failure. I’d rather give myself permission to do things others are unwilling to do and assume more responsibility for the outcomes of my choices. The only way you lose is to never get started or to quit before you give yourself time to learn. Thanks! Bret

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