Written by: Michael Clegg

There has been no better time to network online.  How do we become the best version of ourselves?  How do we position ourselves to be successful?  Connecting with other successful people has shown significant and positive results.  Many of us think about success in terms of professional improvement.  Improvement applies to both your personal and professional life.  Harvard University Social Psychologist, Dr. David McClellan said 95% of success or failure is determined by those you habituate with the most.  Motivational Speaker, Jim Rohn says “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with  We have all heard of that and I tend to find it accurate. 

MEDIUM Article by Maarten van Doorn says to “surround yourself with people you admire”.  I agree and would take it a step further.  Admiration on its own might lead you to people that are difficult to gain access.  I would add people that you admire and that you can communicate directly.  Think of this in terms of relationships not material items.  To seek out these relationships, you can and need to be deliberate about your efforts.   

It is my experience to pay close attention to those closest to you.  Even if you don’t believe that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.   It is important to ask yourself a few questions about the people that influence you: 

  1. Do they inspire me to be a better version of myself? 
  1. Do they embrace my dreams/ideas? 
  1. Do they challenge me in my comfort zone? 

The point of this article is to help you understand that you should actively pursue your social framework as you would any other goal or activity.  Plan and be deliberate.  Be intentional about this.  Left on its own, it will unintentionally form.  By default, you will earn a result that is less than desired and likely not going to help you in the pursuit of your goals.  If you are the average of those you spend the most time, then is it worth spending time learning how to do it?  We have never had a better time to be deliberate about this.  LinkedIn is the greatest professional networking tool that we have ever had.  If you are not “actively” using it, you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with others that could have a direct impact on your ability to be more successful.  Having a LinkedIn profile is not enough.   

In professional terms, the book, “Empower Yourself”, by Harvey Coleman, came up with something called P.I.E.  It is an acronym for Performance | Image | Exposure.  His research proved that Performance only counts for 10% of your success in business.  Image and Exposure count for 90%.  The author is saying that you can be successful with high performance.  However, you may not be as successful unless the right stakeholders know who you are.  Image and Exposure both refer to what other’s think or know about you.  This means that your network does matter.  

There are benefits to joining a group that are all working towards similar goals.  More important than having similar goals is finding those with similar behaviors.  I have always thought that Teams can go further than an individual on average.  Two minds are better than one.  One person taking a positive action influencing another to take similar action will result in more than twice the benefit.    

recently joined a small group to help keep me accountable for marketing and social engagement.  Shay Rowbottom, one of the fastest-growing influencers on LinkedIn,   has created small groups for people like me that are seeking to grow their influence levels.  Immediately, this group has changed the way that I behave and the content that I push out.  My goal is to help others be successful in finding gainful employment.  I can reach more people through social media than I can by speaking with individuals.  I started hosting webinars and writing more articles.  The results will not happen overnight, but progress will be daily. 

We are the choices we make and the actions that we take.  You are being influenced by the people around you positively and negatively every day.  Being deliberate means choosing who to spend the most time mirroring.  That is part of being in a social construct.  If their actions are negative, then change the group you spend time with.  That usually means changing your environment.  

First, you need to figure out if the people in your “circle of trust” need replacing.  That may sound a bit harsh.  However, you might need to expand your sphere of influence.  Below are some areas to explore online while you have more time than ever before. 

  1. Seek out networking groups within your area of interest  
  1. During a pandemic, utilize LinkedIn to do this 
  1. Search for people that have skills or qualities that you admire and connect with them 
  1. Send personalized LinkedIn invites explaining why you would like to connect 
  1. Read within those interest areas: books, newsletters, blogs, journals, magazines, etc. 
  1. Find influencers that you can follow on social media that speak on the things that you want to do 

Finally, we all have groups of people that influence us.  It is up to each of us to determine what type of influence we allow.  We are all being influenced by those we spend the most time.  Be intentional with your network.