Why Your Network is Your Net Worth
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by Al Getler
One of my favorite quotes from author John C. Maxwell is that, “Your network is your net worth.”
I have to admit that I didn’t understand the meaning behind Maxwell’s wisdom at first. In fact, I am pretty sure it took me several years to see the true gem this piece of advice is.
Three weeks ago, there was a major change in my life. I believe the polite way to put it is that I am currently between positions. The reality of the situation is that the well-appointed office that I have been used to going to each working day is no longer available to me. I woke up two Thursdays ago with my commute reduced to making a right turn at the bottom of the stairs into my home office (I have to admit, the commute doesn’t suck).
My new work colleagues include my wonderful and supportive wife who has a business in our home, a handsome Staffordshire terrier mix, a boxer mix that is my best girl and just about the cutest little Chihuahua on two legs (see the video in the YouTube section of my website to explain the two legs).
Despite the present office arrangement, I have hardly been in my office. My schedule has had me out at meetings every day since day one of “between positions”. I have had breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, coffee meetings and just plain old meetings. Who is a guy that has work buddies that mostly shed, scratch and eat indescribable things off the lawn meeting with so often? The answer is that I am meeting with my network.
My phone, email, text messages, LinkedIn Inbox and Facebook messages have been log-jammed with invitations from people in my network inviting me to together and talk. The people in my network have strong opinions on what I should do next in my life and why I should do them. The people in my network also have some very strong opinions about my former employer and I am not sure what they are suggesting those folks should do to themselves is physically possible (but I sure get a kick out of hearing some of my more highly-education and sophisticated friends saying the actual words.)
The plain truth is that I have been book solid. The meetings booked have ranged from those that included people in my network insisting we get together, to a few I felt I needed to arrange early on. Some of the meetings were arranged through casual conversation, while others were pointed discussions. One of my favorites included corned beef, bag pipes and a speech from our governor to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. That was a date that was made before my change, but the change made no difference.
Today alone I caught Pedro, one of my banker friends, dwelling at the free sample displays in Wholefoods. I came up behind him and pointed out that now I see how bankers stay rich. Before we were done chatting we were booked for coffee at a place we have met a couple of times before. What do we plan to talk about when we meet? Most likely the same things we always talk about like how the city is progressing, politics, the economy, our families and likely my next move. Pedro suggested in jest (I think) that I come by and sign the papers for the money I need to start my business.
Right after my email newsletter went out this morning (sign up on the top right hand side of my website), my friend Heather wrote to me. Heather works for a highly respected university in Boston expanding their MBA program. She invited me to lunch or coffee to catch up and wrote, “I hope all is well and you are pursuing your goal of motivational speaking, comedy and enjoying life.” I am so lucky to have Heather in my network. She is a smart, successful person that I like and respect. Heather and her husband are well-known in the community and I respect her opinions on many topics.
As I was driving down the highway today, my friend Tim called me. Tim is more than a guy I have done business with over the years. He is a guy that I like and care about and he cares about me. We have worked to support each other’s business and as a result, it has been a win-win relationship. I like win-win relationships and that is why I like Tim. Now Tim and I are from two different places. I can switch to my Jersey “in ya-face-fugetaboutit” as fast as he can twang out a Southern rebuttal. I had to laugh when he asked in a high-pitched drawl, “Now what in the hell are those people thinkin’?” when he asked about my new situation of being “between positions”. The kind words and offers of help were both humbling and comforting coming from Tim. I am lucky I also have Tim in my network.
Adding Up the Net Worth
Just looking back at the last few weeks and reviewing the people who I have met with, talked with over the phone, exchanged emails with, etc. I am amazed at the net worth of my network. Looking forward in my calendar the value increases tenfold.
If Maxwell is right, and I believe he is, I am a VERY wealthy man. The people in my network certainly are hugely talented people with very successful careers and businesses. Many of them have impressive and important titles and jobs. Some of them have worked to build very successful businesses. A few even do God’s work by feeding the hunger and helping people through difficult times.
Most importantly, my network is comprised of very good people. I am proud to have these people as friends. I am proud that the people in my network have the very same core value that I have. That core value states that people come before profits. No doubt that profit is important in business and in life. But if you disregard people along the way, the profit can only be counted as money in the bank.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with money in the bank and Lord knows I sure could use more. I just prefer to balance my wealth with people; good people.
Al Getler is a consultant in digital media, print media and leadership. He is also an accomplished speaker, comedian and ventriloquist.
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