A diverse business and personal network is essential to advance your career; build your professional profile and increase your influence. As you do this, be aware of a potential blind-spot that can limit your success – familiarity.
Assess your network in light of the following factors:
1.Are my contacts within one or two degrees of separation? (e.g. one or two phone calls to reach them)
If yes, you may be the equivalent of being “root-bound”. This is like a plant being stuck in one pot for too long. The roots grow into themselves and over time become stunted, or worse, the plant dies. Roots, like a healthy network, must expand and explore new areas to thrive and produce results.
2. Does my network undermine or limit my growth?
On the other hand, the downside is that group-think and an “echo chamber” mindset can be created. We lack the necessary objective perspective to see our blind spots. Sometimes those closest to us have the most to lose if we step out and grow. If we are successful, we may move beyond the circle of security and comfort only to grow and become more successful. This can create jealousy, or at worst, have others try sabotage our success to bring us back down to their level.
“Birds of a feather flock together” – so the saying goes. There is something comforting and reassuring about staying within a secure circle of friends and colleagues – peace of mind, comfort and little risk.
3. Step Out and Up
The best way to grow is to risk moving to the fringes or outer limits of our comfort zone, by taping the outer limits of our connections and network. You need to feel the fear and act in spite of it. This is where we stretch and realize our potential.
Moving to a new and unexplored area sharpens our senses; makes us more alert; increases creativity and response time out of necessity. It also introduces us to new people, ideas and perspectives that cause us to grow and expand our horizons.
“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success – or are they holding you back?” — W. Clement Stone