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  • Writer's pictureSally A Illingworth

The Truth About Your Network | Sally A Illingworth

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

There’s an old saying that states “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Some people agree with this statement and others don’t. What I’ve learned is that fundamentally this statement, and others like it, hold a lot of potential in terms of making us realise that it is a balance of both knowledge and networks that can create and unlock potential for our growth.

Audit anyone who has become great and built something great, chances are that they’ve not only acquired knowledge and experience relating to their disciplines of mastery but they’ve also deliberately surrounded themselves with great people.

The other common saying that you’ve likely heard is “you become the average of the five people you spend the most amount of time around”. Do you believe in this? Maybe it’s not specifically five people but the notion that the people closest to us consciously and subconsciously influence our thinking and behaviours is indisputably true.

Consider some of the thoughts you may have and some of the mannerisms you may possess. Then, audit the people closest to you and chances are you’ll quickly identify some similarities, they might be major or they might be minor. In any case, it holds true that the people we surround ourselves with do influence how we think, therefore how we feel and ultimately how we behave and it is all of these actions in combination that ultimately steer the direction of our growth.

One of the biggest challenges for many growing women in business, is identifying the people they need to be surrounding themselves with to truly achieve growth and overcome challenges. For me personally, it took a lot of time on my own to find people I knew I could trust and who could help me to evolve my thinking, my ideas, my actions and my career / business. As time passed and I continued to struggle with identifying the right people to be in my ‘circle’, I started to feel more isolated from growth because I wasn’t taking proactive action to find these people.

So what I did was get super clear on what I valued in people who could support me and advise me. And then I got super clear on what I needed most – strategic advice and safe sounding boards who could provide objective perspective on my business growth plans. After getting really clear on these two dynamics, it was only then that I was able to think clearly and handpick the support people and groups I needed and wanted around me.

It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at on your journey - maybe you’re thinking about starting or maybe you’re 4 years in – in any case, you need to be continuously thinking about who is in your corner. Particularly as you evolve, the people you need in your corner will change. Sometimes you need specific types of people and sometimes it is more generalised support.

Since intertwining myself with SBE’s networks I’ve become completely aware of the strength of surrounding yourself with people who are more connected and more accomplished than myself. Initially it can feel super overwhelming and sometimes you even feel glimpses of being an ‘impostor’, as if you’re playing out of your league! But I promise you, that it is in those moments that you know you’re doing the right thing because you are challenging what you know by connecting with people you don’t know. This has been extremely pivotal for my thinking and my growth.

It’s really exciting to see SBE’s General Manager, Jodie Imam, and Program Manager, Olivia Doherty, over in the US at the moment – truly engaging with SBE’s extended network of advisors, investors, entrepreneurs and alumnae. But it’s even more amazing to see some of Australia’s SBE alumnae in the US growing their thinking and their connections to accelerate their personal and professional evolution. It is a scenario like this that truly testifies for SBE’s mission with helping women to build big, global and sustainable businesses.

So I challenge you to think about what steps you are taking to build a great career and a global business. Who is in your corner?



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