Friends looking at cell phone

When it comes to business and career advancement, we often discount one of ourgreatest resources: our friends. Our friends and peers may know our general profession, but they rarely know the specifics of what we do. They don’t need to shadow you on the job, but your social network should at least know who you serve, how you serve and how well you serve.

The reason this is important is because your friends and peers are the best sources for your next business opportunity — whether they find it within their organization, within one of their client’s circles, or via an email they receive. When your network of friends and peers knows what you’re good at and where you want to go next, you aren’t the only one looking out for you — everyone in your inner circle is.

If you want to leverage your social network for your business, here are three things your peers should know about what you do — and if they don’t know, tell them!

  1. Who do you serve? It’s important for your network to know the customers you serve. Do you serve individuals or organizations? Do you serve primarily elderly people or children? Who is your ideal client? Know the difference between your customer and your consumer. For instance, YouTube’s consumers (who use their product) are individuals watching videos, but their customers (who pay them money) are advertising agencies and corporations. Not only might your network be able to give you access to both to increase your existing business, but they may also come across new opportunities for you to serve your niche, market, or demographic better.
  2. How do you serve? This answer comes down to the product or service you deliver within a company or for a client — a layer deeper than just your profession. It’s one thing to know that you’re a lawyer, but it’s even more valuable for your network to know that you specialize in trademark or asbestos cases or work-related injury cases. Whenever I hear those buzz words from someone in need, I know who to send them to. If you have a specialty, what you don’t want is me to send you anyone I hear needs a lawyer! That’s too general and will waste your future time.
  3. How well do you serve? Finally, your network needs to know your most recent powerful results, so that when they meet someone who fits your demographic and needs what you have to offer, they have a powerful story on hand to dish out. There is nothing better than word-of-mouth marketing, and hearing about someone through someone else makes them sound like a god! So if I hear about a problem that a friend, client, or complete stranger is having, and I realize that you may be of extreme value to that person or the organization they work with, I can plug you with a story that speaks to your value and quality of service.

In addition to letting your extended network know more about what you do professionally, get to know more about what they do. And when an email about a new opportunity comes to you, give back to your network and think about who the gig could be a fit for, instead of simply trashing the email. If you create an inner circle of people looking out for each other’s best interests, you will all grow together.

Jullien “PurposeFinder” Gordon is a high performance coach and consultant for corporations and non-profits. His work as a founding partner at New Higher helps increase employee performance, motivation, engagement, and retention. He was trained at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is the author of 4 books on personal and professional development.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

photo by: DaveFayram