“Open Relationships” and Why Sharing Your Contacts Can Change Your Career
I find that in business in Kenya and around the world, people are much more closed-off to introducing people in their network to each other when it comes to the career world.
In entrepreneurship-land, being the “well-networked” person who is free with their network is becoming a thing clout is built upon. Being a master networker becomes a badge of honor — and it’s not just for meeting new people, it is for helping to connect others. I am an entrepreneur and can attest that one of the only reasons my start up has beensuccessful is because other people have shared personal connections with me. Those people were sometimes the missing part of the puzzle I was looking for. (I know the other entrepreneurs reading this are nodding their heads right now…)
So why isn’t there always that same attitude when it comes to making career-related connections here in Kenya as well as around the globe?
You would be surprised to know how intimidated even I was when I had finally acquired a big personal network of my own and began to share it with other people in my career and entrepreneurship life.
I think the big reason people hesitate to make those connections is because they are afraid. Afraid because what if the two people don’t get along, or one person doesn’t like the email introduction you made, or what if you introduce one of the people in a bad way over email?
Maybe making these connections is even scarier in your career life. When you work for someone, you are less in control of your environment and might think you need to play office politics. You are also in a closed office environment, and still need to work with someone the next day, so maybe the risk of making a “bad” introduction is higher.
Your Relationships Are Open
That’s when I realized that I’m in an open relationship with all the people in my network. We aren’t exclusive friends or colleagues, and they don’t expect me to operate with them in a vacuum of no other people. In fact, they usually like meeting new people and discussing new and exciting things!
You do need to make a good introduction. I usually prefer the double opt-in policy where I’ll ask both people if it is ok to put them in touch. But I never hesitate to make an introduction. It gets easier over time because you realize how much people you know love meeting new people, gain more confidence in how you introduce people, and become better at identifying people who would be able to have an amazing conversation.
The reasons I feel it is important to share your connections freely and fight that urge to keep your network closed off and are as follows:
1- Karma is awesome
You never know when you are going to be job hunting next. One day you might be sharing your contact in HR at another company with a friend, and the next day, they will be sharing their HR contact with you.
By showing other people through introductions that you are connected to others, you suddenly gain credibility. Psychologically, someone thinks — if this person knows and trusts so and so, I can too. When you are looking for that promotion or looking to shift careers, that authority can carry and help you move forward.
Being selfish typically does not make you feel good, whereas being kind and generous immediately gives you a rush of good feelings. Oxytocin is the good feeling you get when you take time to help someone. Time is the only non-recoverable asset, after all. Simon Sinek has a good talk about the oxytocin “leadership hormone” you can check out. So when you help someone by sharing a connection with them, you feel good! And when you feel good, you usually perform better at work.
4- Team Player
It’s natural — most people want to work with other people who are team players. Sharing your personal network with other people shows you get along with others and want to help them. That’s a great trait and also shows you are capable of being a leader.
5- People always surprise you
The benefit of connecting two people and having them absolutely hit it off and become friends for life is MUCH higher than the risk of introducing two people, having them hate each other, and judging you for wasting their time.
To share or not to share…
The moral of the story? Become that person who is always trying to help others and connect them to new people and opportunities! It is important to be conscientious of people’s time and make relevant introductions that someone can opt into. But if you do these introductions properly, it will definitely pay off in your work life.
Originally published at dumaworks.com on January 14, 2016.