As a horse racing enthusiast, over the years I have purchased many dresses, shoes, handbags, fascinators and jewellery to create that outfit that makes me feel fabulous. I even have a section in my wardrobe that is dedicated to my racing outfits.
As women know you don’t want to be seen in exactly the same outfit twice, so if you can’t afford everything totally new, you are always revamping outfits with new accessories to change the look.
Add to this the fact that I have a large group of friends who also attend the races and the stage was set for me to provide my own share service of racing outfits.
It started slowly but gradually grew momentum until my dresses and supporting accessories were being worn many times over on lots of different people and to many different venues.
The adventures of my outfits have created much storytelling and laughter over the years.
Reflecting on these stories had me pondering about reciprocation. Whilst I freely offered my things without any expectation of anything in return, it turned out, even if not immediately, everyone wanted to do something in return as a way of thanking me.
It made me think about how this approach has worked for me throughout my career. As someone who naturally gives to others I hadn’t really taken the time to consider how this had helped me.
But when I reflect back over my career I never really had any difficulty in getting help with a range of things when I needed it due to the support of a fabulous network that I had nurtured over the years.
I guess it really struck me when several months ago I changed jobs and was updating my network on what I was doing. Some of my contacts were recent, but some I had not seen for a long time and yet all were very pleased to hear from me and to meet for a coffee.
Furthermore in my role as a HR consultant, my network has been invaluable in many ways. It has been a great source of finding talent for my clients, sharing ideas on the latest trends and providing me with feedback on new technology or strategies I am planning to employ.
As an outplacement and career coach I am regularly working with individuals who are looking for a new role and many of them think the best strategy is to search the job boards looking for the next right role. They are usually quite surprised when I talk to them about the fact that about 80% of vacancies are never advertised.
Whilst using job boards is one strategy, I work with them on creating a strategy to tap into their network to gather information about roles and industries and to uncover unadvertised opportunities. For many of the clients I work with they find this very difficult as they feel awkward asking others for help, especially if it has been some time since they have been in contact but when they try it they are usually pleasantly surprised to find that people are more than happy to help them out.
All it takes is a plan and some regular practice in keeping connected with people you know in a way that is authentic and doesn’t expect anything in return.
So my question to you is, how much are you developing your skills in networking and giving to others? You might be surprised how easy it is and how much value it brings to you and your network.