I often tell audiences in my talks that even though we have so much more access to information than ever, we are more confused than ever. And I’m not talking just about the issues and events going on around us, I’m also talking about the issues and events going on inside of us.”What’s my next career move?” “What strategy should I focus on to grow my business?” “What’s the best fit?”
Going within ourselves through reading, journaling and meditation can help us uncover answers, but don’t forget that outside of us is a wonderful resource we can also tap into: our network.The people who know, like and trust us can be excellent guides and sounding boards for our biggest challenges. When was the last time you picked up the phone or met face-to-face with a close contact to hash out an important topic? Hanging out and enjoying each other’s company is fine, but people love to help so why not take the opportunity to ask?
It’s important to have these conversations with people in your network who have a variety of perspectives, who know you from different aspects of your life, and who are open-minded. Stay away from those who are overly judgmental and/or highly opinionated (we all have a few of them in our lives, don’t we?) because they’ll tend to block the organic flow of thought and conversation and leap right into what “they think” is the best thing to do.
Here are 5 ways different contacts and colleagues in your network can provide support in defining your options and making your decision:
1) Insight. We’re so close to our issues that it can be difficult to see what’s really important. Someone with an outside perspective can help us untangle our mess of fears, desires, opinions and feelings to get to WHAT we really want and WHY we want it. Before you even figure out HOW to do something, you need to know the answers to these two questions first.
2) Information. Maybe you don’t know what to do next because you don’t have enough facts to make a decision. Someone who’s an expert in the area or has been through the experience before can help you fill in the blanks so you have a more complete picture. However, just know that you’re NEVER going to know everything in advance, so you’ll have to trust yourself at some point and make a leap.
3) Connections. Your best path to action will likely include connecting with people you don’t yet know, and your networking contacts can facilitate introductions to accelerate your journey. The more specific you can be about the people you need to meet (e.g., job title, industry, background, size of company, etc.), the easier it will be for your contacts to identify the exact person you need.
4) Accountability. Don’t be afraid to ask your network to hold your feet to the fire when you’re faced with a task or decision that you know will be hard for you and are likely to put off. One way is to voice out loud or put in writing exactly what you will do, and schedule a follow up call or meeting to report on your progress.
5) Inspiration. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we are bright and capable, or to hear a quote that touches us emotionally and gets us into action. When you need an instant dose of motivation, who in your network can play that role?
© 2012, Liz Lynch International LLCWANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online, shows accomplished business professionals how to connect to the right people and attract the opportunities they deserve. To become a more visible leader in your organization or industry, visit www.LizLynchOnline.com.”