Monday, February 7, 2011

I Goofed You Shouldn’t

Sub-Title: Your Network is your Networth.

When I was the head of training, I had developed a good external professional network.  Each week I would get a call from them asking me if I could speak or present at their workshop or conference.  With each request I became increasingly arrogant with the value to my network.  If I agreed to the speaking requests, I could have one each week.  So I began to be very selective.  Not only was I sought after, but also I could call on my network to seek an opinion or to get help.  I had a very good network – or so I thought.

My career responsibility increased when I became a senior HR executive. With each passing moment I got more immersed in my work dealing with the internal issues of the organization and region I was responsible for.  Alas! I started neglecting my network.  I didn’t contact them as much and likewise they didn’t contact me too. Being a strategic HR partner took a heavy toll of my time.  In any case, I told myself that I have a good network.  Even when there is much lesser contact, I pride myself that I could refresh it when needed.

Over time I lost contact with many of my external network.  I made a major mistake of neglecting my network and I didn’t figure this step in planning for my next lap.  I realized my folly too late as I have already left the corporate world and into my next journey.  Letters and emails sent to the addresses I had were returned.  It was a very frightening time for me.

I spend the greater part of the first year of my active retirement re-establishing my contacts.  I am fortunate that I had a few people I could still call on.  They helped me re-connect with those that I was looking for.  I learned about on-line professional networks like LinkedIn and Plaxo.  I joined these and started rebuilding and re-establishing my network.  I wasn’t an easy task.  I had planned to be coaching and facilitating workshops during this time instead of rebuilding my network.  

After a year of rebuilding the network, my coaching and facilitating activities increased.  Now I can say that my network is my NETWORTH.  They have kept me active with challenging assignments.  I am so thankful for them.  Today, I have added another goal to my other three.  (See previous article, “Planning My Next Lap”).  My goal is to have a minimum of one contact – be it an email, a phone call or a text message – to every member of my network each year.  I am glad to say that I have achieved it and will continue to work on improving it every year.  Right now, I am averaging 1.5 contacts per person per year.

I goofed and you shouldn’t!  Never neglect your network.  You could just send them your personalize New Year greeting not just those forwarded ones.  Personalized messages, no matter how simple, are more sincere.  It shows that you have taken the time to craft a message to connect with them.  When time comes to seek help from your network, they will be there for you.  I know that my network came through for me.  I am blessed and grateful to have such wonderful people in my network!


  1. Thank you for sharing! I agree that maintaining a professional network is important whether you are working in a company or being an independent business person. Building is only the first step. The tough part is the maintenance. You have an interesting goal but I wonder if that is sufficient. I think you will need to engage them. Regards, AB

  2. Thank you for the reminder Cheah. My experience last year, trying to build network was both frustrating and tiring. But out of that experience, I learned a lot about myself and also fortunate enough to meet some really genuine people. Now back at work full-time, I have to learn to build internal network. Your post came in on time, to remind me that while I build internal network, I should not neglect my external network. You always seem to know when I need this ;)) Cheers, HS.

  3. Dear HS, thank you for your note. I am glad it was timely. There is an interesting article by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter in HBR, "How Leaders Create and Use Networks." It categories networks into 3 groups -- Operational, Personal and Strategic. Operational network is to get work done efficiently. Personal network is for personal and professional development and finally Strategic network is for figuring out future priorities and challenges. Regards, KL

  4. Dear AB, thanks for your insight. I like your idea of engaging your network. If any readers have experience in this area and are willing to share, it will be a wonderful discussion forum. Regards, KL


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