Your network is one of the only true competitive advantages you can have. I believe your network just might be the deciding factor in whether or not you accomplish your goals and dreams.
I’ve written many times about the importance of a strong network and how to build it, but I’ve never written about the connect that geography makes on your network. I was reminded of this when reading Adam‘s recent blog post, titled Great advice I didn’t take, but maybe you should.
In the post, Adam shares this advice I gave him about his jump into entrepreneurship:
Jeff said, ‘The first thing you need to decide is where you want to start your business. Find a job in that market, move there, and spend two years developing your network there, while working for someone else.’ He said that after two years of serious networking, you should have the base you need to go out on your own, and start your own agency.
He then goes about not doing that at all, and launching his business using all the tools of great networking minus the geography bit. So basically, he ignored everything I told him :)
I’m not surprised at all that Adam has been so successful as a CEO, and I’m equally not surprised that he’s been able to do it on the back of his substantial, nationwide network. If you know Adam, you know the only thing that rivals his work ethic is his ability to connect with people.
Geography is obviously important to building a great network. It helps you create deeper relationships because you can meet face-to-face more easily and frequently. It’s far more cost-effective (driving across town vs. flying to another city.) And you’re more likely to build your network organically by running into your connections at events in town.
That said, geography is not a requirement, and it is not a replacement for the things that make for a strong network. Trust, authenticity, and consistency are the traits you need to build a strong network, and if you have those (as Adam does in spades) then geography is simply a plus.