I’m questioning the function of my professional network.

Here is why:

I was recently blessed to participate in a year-long leadership program with a group of tremendously gifted and grounded human beings.  The program repeats each year with a new “class” and, like a college, has an alumni association.

At the graduation ceremony, two messages were emphasized.

– Leadership, at its core, is a display of service – to others, the community, organizations, companies, and families.

– As a graduate of this program, we are now plugged into a network of hundreds of people (alumni) that can assist us professionally throughout our career.

Both statements are innocuous and true – but are they slightly contradictory? 

If our leadership foundation is “service to others,” I asked myself if I should be viewing my network as an opportunity to assist others, first, and then as a resource to me, second.

Initially, I dismissed this question as a silly one.  “I do assist others in my network.”  But is “when asked” the best that I can do as a leader?

This is primarily a thought experiment, because realistically we are all very busy and rely on our professional networks to succeed (or survive) to put food on the table.  Few of us are in the position to be the “Mother Theresa” of LinkedIn – scouring our contacts and evaluating who we could help and how.

However, is it an unreasonable idea to peruse our contacts periodically and offer assistance, when a need exists, without being asked?