One of the best career development tips I can give you is to build and nurture your network from your first day in professional services. It is this network of people who you have worked with who will almost definitely be the first providers of clients for your portfolio. However, we can’t always choose who we work with, and from time to time there will be people who, for what ever reason, you don’t gel with.  In this blog post, we are going to talk about the importance of pruning the relationships in your network from time to time. The problem is with most networking advice you read is that it is all about finding, building and maintaining relationships. Never do you hear advice about deteriorating – or even consciously letting a relationship decline.

Do you review your network?

However, I strongly believe that you should regularly review your network and contacts and ask yourself, as a good friend of mine, Rob Brown, suggests, “is the juice worth the squeeze?” Very often, you know in your heart of hearts that the ‘juice isn’t worth the squeeze’. For example, I recall a situation where I had given up an evening and driven over to someone I considered a friend to lend her my bike. In the process I had knackered my back and was in considerable pain. However, when I arrived, I had been stood up. No phone call or text to alert me to her non-appearance. After this incident, I took the time to reevaluate the state of this relationship. It was all one way traffic and literally nothing back in return. It wasn’t hard to let the relationship decline…

Is it always that easy?

However, not all relationships are that clear cut. For example, what about the contact who never returns your calls or emails but is extremely warm to you in person? Or, the network of people you want to break into, but something just doesn’t feel right? Or the person you have been getting closer to, but you have a niggling doubt about them? For me it’s all about the energy you put into a relationship. Is there a similar amount of give and take? Do you both feel good and supported in each other’s company? Are both of you happy at the level of intimacy in the relationship? Do you feel helped or hindered by this person? Whilst it may feel tough to start to distance yourself from people in your network, you owe it to yourself to take the plunge. There are only so many people you can keep regularly in contact with. The less toxic relationships in your network, the more room for positive and productive relationships. Lastly, you deserve it to surround yourself with people who make you feel supported and happy. How liberated would you be if you could remove the toxic relationships from your network?  

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