As professional women, we know that relationships are extremely important to our success. And we also know that connections and opportunities can arise in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times.
That’s why consciously creating a network of key people in your world is a great idea. I call it the Circle of 10.
The Circle of 10 is a network of 10 people (a mix of men and women) who are associated to you in different areas of your life but are not connected to each other. For example, a few folks in my circle of 10, a CIO, my pastor, a community advocate, an attorney, my marketing/public relations consultant. All very different profiles and all very connected. In essence, I am connected to their networks as well, creating a much wider sphere of influence.
We often get complacent about networking and developing new relationships. This is a fantastic way to push you outside you comfort zone to find opportunities to build your networks in different places you hadn’t considered before.
How do you create your Circle of 10?
First of all, it’s a subtle, unspoken thing. You pinpoint those people you would like to be in your Circle of 10 and quietly nurture relationships with them. And be sure to choose people who you are genuinely interested in. Authenticity is key.
Choose someone from every area of your life that’s important to you – work, church, community, social, etc.
Start out by taking time to learn more about each of your 10. If community service is important to one of them, offer to volunteer or donate to their organization of choice. If there is someone at work with whom you’d like to develop a Circle of 10 relationship, invite him or her to lunch.
How do you leverage this network?
Once you’ve established your 10, commit to nurturing these relationships.
As I mentioned above, find out what means a lot to them and try to give them something to begin with. Donate to their charity, send them a note of congratulations on a promotion, invite them to lunch or, if they have kids, an outing to the zoo. Whatever the case, giving of yourself first is a great way to build a relationship, any relationship for that matter.
Then, commit to keeping in touch with them a few times a year.
Some of these relationships will blossom into much more frequent communication, even friendship. Some will remain a simple exchange of emails several times a year. However your relationships, evolve, you’ve established a new connection and hopefully champion for you out there in the world.
Keep your network abreast of what’s happening in your life. Ask them what’s happening in theirs. Look for ways to help them and they will reciprocate.
If you find someone who does not seem interested in building a relationship with you, replace them with someone who does.
The most fun part of this is getting to know new people and broadening your own horizons. You will be surprised at what comes out of these relationships….and they may be too.