How far does your network reach? Chances are it’s much larger than your zip code, city, state, or even country!

For those of you who doubt the power of networking and don’t believe that it’s important not to burn a bridge, let me tell you this short anecdote:

I own a networking organization that started in Atlanta and has quickly expanded into other cities out of state. Because of the success of the monthly events and the positive experiences that the attendees have, I was lucky to have the groups featured in a national publication. Because of their reach, I began getting inquiries from all over the world with people asking for advice on how to start something similar in their area.

One such person was a young woman in Australia who shared with me about her networking group for HR professionals and asked for some tips to grow it. We spoke for about 45 minutes and I was glad to assist, but thought that would likely be the end of our communications being how far away she lives.

Fast-forward about 3 months. I sent a message to a friend who moved to Australia earlier this year. She quickly replied and said, “You’ll never believe how small of a world it is! I was speaking with someone and mentioned you and your company and she was shocked because it was Vanessa with whom you recently spoke!”.

All the way from Atlanta to Australia my network was working and connecting! I then got a message from Vanessa reiterating the same tale and smiled because it cemented for me what I already know:

1. Your Network Is A Living Organism
And like a living being, it should be nurtured and tended to with care. You never know how your interactions with people will pan out and whom they know.

2. Be Wise In The Way You Interact With Social & Professional Contacts
Don’t assume that your network only lives where you do. In our ever more interconnected world, your network crosses the globe!

3. Be Open
Take some time to respond to people who might just seem like an interruption to your day. While it may never “pay off” for you directly, it can have a lasting impact to the other person.

4. We Don’t Live In Bubbles
You may think it’s okay to be rude or dismissive to someone because you’ll never see him/her again or no one will be the wiser. As you saw in this story, your network is always working, for better or for worse. Do your best to be kind and generous of your time and resources.

5. You Never Know Where A Contact Will Lead
You may think I mean that about the Australian woman, but I mean it about the gentleman who wrote about my events in the national publication. We actually met at one of my events early on and became friends. I had no idea at the time that he wrote for any publication nor that he’d be writing about me.

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