I believe that no matter how hard I work, with help things are always better. And help often comes from a network of people I developed over many years.
For the first decade of my work-life I have been managing up, means I tried to network with people more influential than I was. This included my bosses, my bosses bosses and of any cool title I could find.
The next decade I became the target of networking efforts. People building their careers reach out to get some help, an intro or just like to stay in touch.
Now at 45 years and with 50% of my work-life as a senior executive, I see more and more of my network retire. Those are still wonderful, often very powerful people.
Thinking about this, I realize that the network of the second decade is much more powerful (and interesting) than the first. They inspire me with new ideas, clearer values, and they still carry the fire of revolution. A former intern becomes a CEO, a former co-worker becomes a hero and a former employee becomes a political leader.
My point: Don’t develop your network based on the people’s titles and achievements but their potential. They are the future and who doesn’t want to be well connected with the future. And if you reach out to me, don’t feel you’re asking for help when in fact you’re adding so much value to me by connecting.