The Key To Developing Your Network? Listening.

3911558890_0e07e371c4_bEach of us grows up in a particular setting. Even as we grow through life, the early messages influence us. Here is a great example of a young professional who has brought her early experiences to guide her in gathering fresh knowledge. Quoted in the New York Times, Ariana Friedlander is neither shy nor uninformed. Ariana Friedlander is the principal and founder of Rosabella Consulting, a firm focused on helping small to medium sized organizations who have been in business two or more years to recognize their potential through marketing strategies or improved sales processes.

What makes Rosabella unique is that Ariana embeds the values of sustainability into her deliverables – not just sustainability in terms of values to the environment, but also sustainability to the organization. In other words, her solutions are designed to meet the short term need and lead and support the client’s long-term goals as well.

When I asked about how she keeps her knowledge fresh, she talked about strategies that fit her personality. “I’m an extrovert. For me it’s always helpful to have conversations, and I have a network of friends and colleagues,” said Ariana. There is nothing new about having a network, but I sensed that there was more to this story. When I asked her how she created such a strong network at her stage in her career, the real story came out. “Part of my network was developed through the demands of my work. But I also got involved with the community. I do volunteer work and community service including the FortZED Community Energy Challenge here in Fort Collins.”

Maintaining a network is sometimes harder than creating one. “I listen attentively, ask questions, and give as well,” she said. “I’m always willing to be a resource.” She also said that she has been ‘lucky’ to always have a mentor – even in high school, through college, and all through her work. “I have always used mentors to bounce ideas off of and utilize them to better myself,” explained Ariana. What mentor would not jump at helping someone who ‘listens attentively.’

Ariana also uses the Internet to bring in new ideas, fresh knowledge, and lots more information. “I give myself time every day to poke around on the Internet and find what I find. Sometimes I pursue a particular topic I want to know more about. Other times, I just poke about.” She doesn’t set a time or a time limit to her ‘poking’, and she definitely uses spare time like when she is waiting to be seated at a restaurant to check things on her iPhone. “If I have a couple of minutes, I’ll look on FaceBook or LinkedIn. I can read quickly lots of articles on my iPhone.”

I loved how Ariana matched her searching of new information with her own preferences for conversation. Each of us has ways of learning that are easier for us for whatever reason. Chapter 5 of Riding the Current helps you find where your preferences may lie. They should never limit you, but they are a great place to start.

Photo by Travis Isaacs