How rigorously do you maintain your professional network?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How rigorously do you maintain your professional network?

  • Very: I put a lot of time and effort into strengthening my network: 16%
  • Kind of: I'll spend time on it when I have free time: 33%
  • Not very: I neglect maintaining it most of the time: 41%
  • Not at all: I have more important things to spend time on: 9%

To network or not network? Only a small percentage (16%) of you are being rigorous about managing your network. The rest, much less so. Given the resources available these days (social networks, mobile phones, etc.) it’s easier than ever to manage and strengthen your network. Yes, it’s a long-term investment and it takes time and energy. It’s easy to ignore doing it -- until you need it. I see it all the time -- people do nothing to manage and maintain their network but then the instant they lose their job or lose a key client, they’re a frenzy of networking activity. That never works out well. Think of your network like your retirement accounts: you have to invest in them now when you don’t need them so they’re strong and ready when you do need them.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."