Regardless of the entry point, current stage, or future goals of one’s professional life, having a sizable professional network is more than just a boon. It’s a requirement. Professional networks play a role in recruitment, advancement, even in starting and expanding a business. In Jason Kwan’s business experience, professional networks played a crucial role when he was moving on from the world of digital marketing and into investment.
Jason had three pillars he used to start the Pearl West Group. His network was one of them. The other two were previous business experience and a willingness to devour every piece of business and merger and acquisition literature he could get his hands on. While it’s hard to say which is more important, Jason would be the first to admit how valuable having a professional network is and give some advice on how to expand and leverage it.
Understanding the Drivers Behind Network Expansion
There’s a misconception that networks are made to help us on our way up the ladder of success. While having ambitions and working to bring them to fruition isn’t inherently wrong, seeing people as little more than rungs of a ladder isn’t the best way to approach building networks. That kind of utilitarianism might stop working sooner than expected.
It’s a completely different approach to rely on other things that make people connect. A need to learn is one of them. So is the desire to be surrounded by people who share the same interests. An openness to hear other people’s opinions is there, too. Finally, it’s curiosity that’s the most potent driver behind the need to expand professional networks.
Expanding and Relying on a Network
After identifying one’s curiosity, the best way to let it drive the network-building would be to follow it. Jason’s curiosity always led him to seek out knowledge, either from books or from places of learning. He was doing it when he was starting his business, and his company is doing it today, too.
When he decided to give investing a shot and take a step back from marketing, Jason immediately saw that he had a huge gap in his knowledge that he needed to fill. He turned to books, of course, but he also started attending classes at the Harvard Business School. Those classes allowed him to network with the professors there.
Since launching PWG, Jason has continued using the same model to network; he let his curiosity and thirst for knowledge lead him to situations where he might expand his network. This time, however, he traded classes for business conferences.
When it comes to leveraging the network, Jason notably did it to reach Lawrence Cunningham, a financial expert who is friends with Warren Buffett. Cunningham is now the advisor for the company. Even before he was on board, however, Jason Kwan relied on his network to help him learn everything there is to learn about investing and acquisitions. He pretty much leveraged the network to feed his curiosity—the very thing that helped him build the network.