Establishing Your Network

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Relationships are not about fulfilling your needs.

With some pvc pipe, glue, and hairspray, my friends and I learned to make a “toy” capable of launching an entire potato. We began with little more than a bored afternoon and some spare change. By the end of the evening we were sending spuds into the stratosphere. We aptly named our creations “Potato Cannons” and throughout middle and high school we made dozens. Years later, I cofounded my first business with one of those friends.

While trivial, my Potato Cannon days prove a valuable point: every major, positive life event is a result of my network. This theme remains consistent within my own life and others I know. For example, my first paying website build came from a colleague’s introduction. The cofounder of my first business was a decade old friend. The largest deal I’ve closed was from a referral. My first opportunity as a chief technology officer came from a relationship with one of the cofounders. I even met my wife through a mutual connection. Looking back, I’m unsure of the quality or lift of my career without the impact and influence of a strong network.

Your Greatest Resource

A healthy network is a working professional’s greatest resource. It’s a combination of who you know and your reputation among those individuals. Beyond merely knowing large numbers of people, it’s important to be well regarded by your connections. The simplest way to do this? Provide value. Consistently providing value is a proven way to build better relationships and strengthen your community ties.

A friend of ours emphasized the importance of building a network when we talked with her. “A professional network is a game changer,” said senior web designer, Kelly Leonard. “If you go to code school and stick to yourself, you’ve lost half the value. So much of my work now is collaborating with others. It’s imperative to the job hunt, and its value trumps even what you’re learning.”

My favorite analogy to describe networks is banking. While banks are not known for their personability, they possess overlapping elements with relationships: balances, deposits, withdrawals, and individual accounts. Wealthy people have lots of accounts and each account remains in good standing, with large balances. They make more deposits than withdrawals. Relational wealth works much the same way. A consistently growing, positive balance with more people leads to greater relational equity.

Much like saving money, organically growing your network can take years or decades. Fortunately, code schools provide students with a head start. Gaining access to an established network of skilled teachers, alumni, advisors, and employers is equivalent to a financial inheritance. It’s an injection of relational equity you didn’t have to earn yourself. You benefit from your association to your code school because it immediately gives you common ground for connection.

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CTO at Fast Company’s World Most Innovative Company (x4). Author of “Code School”, a book to help more people transition into tech.

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Morgan J. Lopes

Morgan J. Lopes

CTO at Fast Company’s World Most Innovative Company (x4). Author of “Code School”, a book to help more people transition into tech.

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