We regularly hear discussions about networking and its importance in the professional world; I think this can be especially true in the Ohana where people are so willing to connect, support, and grow together. Even with so many amazing people in our ecosystem, unfortunately many still think of networking as ‘a what can I get out of this right now’ tool.
At least 50% of my accepted LinkedIn connections are followed by a direct message either selling Salesforce consulting, pushing a Salesforce job, or wanting to offer their recruiting services. I usually quickly delete our connection; it is one part ‘no hard feelings, just not interested’ and one part ‘I don’t want to connect with anyone that thinks this a good practice.’
However, the story I’m about to share is an example of networking done well, where each member of this particular network generally developed a relationship with each other over time. This network has provided tangible benefits to all four members, and as you’ll see, is now helping others outside this immediate group.
There is a lot going on in this network besides the transactional elements you see here. AJ & I, as well as Ben & I, have had a lot meaningful engagements beyond ‘I want a job’ and ‘I want your Salesforce project.’ I consider both to be friends and look forward to progressing in the Salesforce world with them, sharing in the successes, pains, and growth along the way.
I even used this network (when AJ was in the midst of interviewing with Simplus) to backchannel with Joe to share my opinion that AJ was going to be a rockstar. As much as I wanted AJ on my team, I just didn’t have the right place for him to get started. Joe (who really is a bright example for all recruiters) of course recognized this already and was happy to share his similar thoughts, so I could let AJ know the magic was about to happen.
This group has a regular dialogue & engagement with each other on LinkedIn, Slack, & Twitter which led to this brilliant moment this past Monday, that started when Ben posted:
AJ had previously shared a linked for Simplus’ Bootcamp program, which I saved for a moment just like this one since I’m regularly asked how to break into the SF world.
Replying to Ben’s post, I shared the same link AJ posted, and then this chain unfolded.
Tom has applied for the program and though he is not guaranteed to be accepted, it was Ben’s outreach and our continued engagement that compelled me to reply right away. I had the information because AJ continues to engage with this network even after his job search is completed and he is well settled. Joe, connected with all three of us, was able to provide additional color and detail.
Beyond just a cool story, I think the above really highlights something important. Each one of us wanted to win a deal, land a new recruit, find a new role, grow our skills, get help, etc., yet our connections run much deeper than just an ‘Invite, Connect & Pitch.’
While we may have generally built our networks to support our own professional goals, I believe each of us recognizes that in order to gain lasting value from being active in a professional community, you must also contribute value.
So yes, network, grow your connections, but also have meaningful conversations, engage with your network, develop relationships, and put value into that network. You’ll find that your network is much more powerful as a result.