• November 2014

Giving Thanks for Your Professional Network

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook and The Big Book of HR

Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for my network of colleagues and friends.

Of course, this network didn’t come together overnight.

My network is made up of people I have worked with over the years, including the managers I’ve worked for, people who were my peers, and many people whom I had the privilege to manage or mentor.

I’ve learned a great deal from this group of people and want to acknowledge how important they are to me and to any measure of the success I’ve had.

And, I am constantly adding new people to my network—people I meet when I speak at various organizations, people I sit next to on plane trips, people I come in contact with through my responsibilities on different boards of directors … you get the picture. My network is continually expanding, and your network should be expanding as well.

Here’s how:

  • Link In: LinkedIn has taken networking to a new level, and it is now incredibly easy to reconnect with people you’ve known over the years—but for some reason or another, lost touch with. I use LinkedIn a lot in my work and find it to be an extremely valuable networking tool. Facebook has also had a great impact, primarily with old friends and relatives, but more and more, it is becoming a business networking tool as well.
  • Know that networking matters: Building and maintaining a professional network is critical to business success. It is amazing to me how many people ignore it, and it’s even more impossible to understand people who think a network matters only when they are looking for a new job. Tap your network. In my experience, most people are happy to help if they can.
  • But remember, networking is a two-way street: I can’t count how many times I hear from people out of the blue who are looking for a job, or need a referral, and want access to my network. Like most people, I am happy to assist. But remember, it has to be a two-way street. So before you reach out to someone for help, think about how you can help them, too.
  • Variety is the spice of life: I rely on my professional network for advice, information, and support. No one person can be on top of everything in their industry, so it is the vast network of people with different skill sets and different interests that keeps me in-the-know.
  • Pride yourself on asking questions: When I work with clients, I don’t try to pretend that I have all the answers or want them to believe that I do. The key, however, is knowing who in my network does have that answer or that expertise for almost any question that comes my way.
  • Constantly give thanks: While it’s wonderful to give thanks at holiday time, I try to consistently give thanks to the generous people in my network who regularly share their time, knowledge, and expertise. When you are surrounded (in person or virtually) by warm, friendly colleagues, work doesn’t seem like work.
  • Pay it forward: I encourage you to take some time today to reconnect and to build your network. I promise you will be glad you did!


About Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and has consulted for organizations around the world.

She has served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and at several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding The Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Her books include The Essential HR Handbook and The Big Book of HR.

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