I recently had the privilege to listen to Rick Itzkowich (AKA Rick “I” the LinkedIn guy) speak on the power of LinkedIn and ironically he opened my eyes to the power of networking as a leader. LinkedIn has become such a valuable tool for business professionals because of its networking capabilities through peoples’ degrees of separation. One great line that Rick “I” said is, “You never know who you know knows, unless you ask.” Now the word “know” is used a lot in that statement, but when you discover the meaning you find that it is so true because often we are looking to establish a connection with someone without asking all the people in our closest circles who they know, which could lead you to the right person.
If you look at this issue in an opposite way, you can see that there is a clear opportunity to improve your ability to serve others needs as a leader. Who do you know whom you could introduce to someone to help their career? Networking is not necessarily all about making connections with people so that you can use them but it is more about friend raising for long-standing relationships. LinkedIn works in two ways simultaneously; as a self-serving vehicle for connection and as a connections serving vehicle. Often times the best feeling you can ever have is when you give to someone else and then watch them go on to drastically improve their life. This is how you raise friendships.
Helping others succeed is what leadership is all about but people don’t just automatically come to you and ask for a connection unless they see that you have two important traits. These are:
- Credibility takes time to build and get noticed. You will need to show that you are capable in the field of interest and that you demonstrate a certain level of integrity that people will want to imitate.
- Trust is all important in business relationships. It builds off of credibility over time and the consistency of your statements and actions. Without trust all relationships perish no matter their depth.
Brian Alexander is the Marketing Project Specialist with The Ken Blanchard Companies.