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Dapper Dossier No. 6

Never Burn a Bridge: Maintain Your Pro Network

Burning bridges is bad. It’s an irreversible military tactic to stop progress or retreat. What do bridges do? They connect us, they bring us together and they enable us to work in ways that we had not thought possible previously. Networking is the same. It’s going out and recognizing that other people are the most important part of your success. We no longer live in the me economy, but instead in the we economy. How can you build bridges in your professional life instead of tear them down?

No. 1: Stay in touch

Half of the battle in maintaining your network is touching base. Take time to reach out when you’re in the car, in the airport, or spending aimless time on Facebook. Intentionally working to connect makes others feel important and in turn allows them to reciprocate with you. By building bridges of communication instead of tearing them down your network becomes stronger and more useful.

No. 2: Give to get

What happens when you are selfish? Colleagues and clients start to fall away as they realize you are never willing to compromise, discuss or participate. Showing up is half of the battle, but jumping in and showing that you have the chops to give a little to gain an extraordinary amount demonstrates to both groups that you are in the game 100%.

No. 3: Constant editing

Fruit trees don’t just grow straight on their own. They require constant pruning and care to ensure they are going to develop the perfect fruit. Why should your personal network be any different? Sometimes it’s good to shuffle people around, or move their position in the hierarchy, and sometimes the branches you haven’t used in a long time need to be cut away to ensure there is new growth. Editing may appear hurtful at first, but most often in the end benefits them as much or even more than it helps you.

So why is your network so important?

Because it is always there to catch you.  It’s your safety net when things get tough and your fishing net when you need to feed your business. By building, instead of tearing down, bridges you remain open to connecting, learning and seeking to understand people and what makes them tick. After all don’t we all just want to be understood.

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