Your Network is a Universe of Possibilities

by Rachel Weintsein, Executive Coach

It’s important for us to recognize, assess and nurture key business relationships in our network. Focusing your energy and effort on doing so can not only be a satisfying experience but a career booster. It’s not hard to do, particularly with an exercise here that guides you in mapping out the possibilities.

But first, let’s back up and make sure you believe that you are an important person who knows important people.

How do I know that? Because you were plucked from a large pool of candidates as the very best person to perform your job function (and if the pool was a small one, it makes you all the more invaluable!)

The important people you know?

Those include the person who hired you, the individual to whom they’re accountable, people who have seen your name on great work, anyone who taught you the skills you have today, bosses you’ve impressed in the past, and friends from your university or school who have earned their own coveted roles. They’re all influential people in your profession to some extent, and they’re all in your direct network.

Think of it as a solar system – in the elementary school sense – in which you are the sun in the centre of the paper (go on – actually draw it), with many rings surrounding you to indicate the orbit of planets in your solar system. (Fortunately this has nothing to do with the actual order of the planets, because I no idea except for that Pluto is last…and it’s not even a planet anymore. Go figure.)


Now you’re ready to plot on those orbit lines “planets” that are those closer and farther from the sun, indicating various people in your professional network. Those closer to the centre are your strongest relationships; individuals you could call up any day and it wouldn’t be too awkward.  More distant relationships are farther from the sun; contacts that might require a catch-up e-mail with an update on your life or perhaps a reminder of who you are. And then there are surely a whole bunch in between.

Your solar system will always be evolving. For example, when assigned to work more directly with a senior leader in your organization for a few months, she would naturally move from an outer ring to an inner one as you build a personal rapport.

What you do with this visual reminder is up to you. I would suggest that first, you look at it and feel great about the power of relationship at your fingertips. Then, consider your immediate goals.  Want a promotion? More insight on career options or working arrangements? Mentorship? Target which people are the “important” people in that context and reach out to ask for advice, guidance or support from the people who know you. Pull some of those planets in closer to the sun.

“Good idea!” say some of you. And off you go to pick up the phone. For the rest, I know it’s a panic-inducing suggestion, to whom I offer this advice from the movie We Bought a Zoo:

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.”

And you’re hardly buying a zoo here. You’re just manipulating your universe! 😉


Rachel is an independent, certified Executive Coach. For over a decade she has partnered with ambitious management and executive-level professionals to help them uncover a way to succeed in business that matches who they are in life. Using tools that encourage self-reflection and bold action, she inspires clients to identify business aspirations that excite them and create strategies to help them reach their goals. 

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