While it's important to learn the critical business skills relevant for your role, the next best thing you can do is to invest in relationships at all levels. Those relationships will last sometimes beyond your most personal ones, so choose your circles of influence wisely. Since you never know who can be a resource to you - it's important to approach your network with authenticity, gratitude and generosity. With that in mind, here are the three steps of the business food chain to ensure your company is staying at the top of the cycle:
Building and nurturing your network is one of the most important things you can do in business. This means networking and networking in every way possible such as attending events, meet-ups and parties in your industry. It also means keeping up with old colleagues, staying in touch and meeting with them over coffee, lunch or drinks. As your career grows, your former colleagues will spread out far and wide taking on important positions at companies you may want to partner with or that can make new important connections for you. When you connect regularly with old colleagues and share what you are up to in life and business, inevitably the conversation will move to business goals, needs or ideas you are developing and you never know who may be able to help or provide the right introduction.
Online networking is also a great way to expand your network and help to bring you closer to your goals. It's a great way to find and interact with influencers such as retweeting their content and engaging in conversations. Growing your network on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is critical because when you put a request out, the more people that see it the more likely you are to get a helpful response.
Giving, paying it forward and just being generous is something that can come back tenfold or more. Whether that's in doling out go-to-market advice, sharing tactics that have worked or making connections for those who cross your path - having a generous mindset is key. In thinking of my own career, I can think of countless times when someone was generous enough to provide an introduction that led to an opportunity - those opportunities took the shape of new business opportunities, clients, partnerships and even new jobs.
The only way to keep the positive flow going is to continuously give back and in the words of the civil rights activist and peacemaker Martin Luther King.."the most important question to ask oneself is what are you doing for others?" In that vein, some suggestions into areas of business where you can give more include marketing advice, product feedback, intros, informational interviews, resume feedback and mentorship.
A wise man once said " A closed mouth does not get fed" - it is with that mindset that it's important to not forget to ask. You'd be surprised what friends, associates and strangers are willing to do. Another way to think about it is to state your intention and then talk about it with people. You never know who'll be able to help you.
In my recent case, a friend introduced me to a contact for which I'll be forever grateful, It was a genuine conversation where I just mentioned a company where I was looking for a contact. I had no idea that she'd be the one to help me, but just simply voicing out loud what it was I was looking for transformed into a key introduction which is now opening other doors.
We also practice the art of asking with our community who are a big part of Trunx, and who we consider to be an extension of our team. By becoming part of our community they get inside access to new features as well as other fun perks. In exchange, we also ask a few things of them, such as product feedback, app store reviews, and new feature testing.
Some basic rules of etiquette do exist, so be sure to not take up too much time and always be thankful of the time and energy people put forth on your behalf.
Of course there are certain "must have" business skills such the ability to use a computer, understanding how to navigate the internet or most importantly having the right domain expertise that will rank highly for determination of business success. However, in the socially networked and connected world of today - it's even more important to put time into creating and nurturing trusted and reciprocal relationships. As the old saying goes, "it's not what you know but who you know that counts" and this has never been more true today than ever!