For 10 years I acted as a mentor to incoming analysts or associates at one of the two investment banks I worked for.
Being a mentor was rewarding and a way to help younger folks navigate the often terrifying waters of a cutthroat work environment.
One of the main pieces of advice I gave was this: You should spend as much time selling yourself internally as you do externally. 50/50.
What I noticed during my career was that those who zoomed up the corporate ladder always seemed to have the strongest networks, regardless of whether or not they were the best producer.
The majority of people hate to network. They believe hard work is enough to get ahead. Unfortunately, from a career and financial perspective, networking is vital if you want to outperform.
There is no true meritocracy.
The Rise And Fall Of A Network
At its core, a network’s fundamental reason for being is for survival purposes. When you have a group of people fighting for you, it’s much easier to avoid getting eaten by lions.
When I started Financial Samurai in 2009, nobody gave me the time of day even after a year of operation. A lack of recognition is why so many blogs or online businesses shut down within a year, despite the low operating costs.
Therefore, I started my own blogging network to help me and other nascent bloggers grow. We promoted each other’s sites over social media, allowed for each other to guest post, helped each other with technical issues, and shared advertising contacts.
At its peak, the network grew to 120 bloggers strong. To pay for my time and the operating expenses of running the network, the network took a 10% cut of all the advertising campaigns mostly I and sometimes other members created. It was a promising business model based on honesty.
The network was going great until one member decided to take the advertising contacts we had accumulated and started her own business creating blog campaigns. Then another member started doing the same.
Because of greed and selfishness, instead of having one strong network, we now had rival factions. Contract prices fell and chaos ensued. No longer was the network mainly about supporting the growth of each other’s sites.
The network created money monsters. I guess I can’t blame the two members who took my idea and created their own mirror image business because they only made about $36,000 a year from their day jobs. To them, they only saw dollar signs…