I am blessed because of the people I am surrounded by. While they may not be aware of it, these are the people that teach me, hold me accountable, help me accomplish things that I could not alone, and that allow me to have the amazing experiences that I do. In our professional lives, we think of these people as our network. Yet, we have a network within our personal lives that is just as powerful and rarely tapped: it is composed of our friends, family, neighbors, and even our acquaintances. Our networks help us accomplish more than we could on our own. They remind us of who we are and form the foundation that supports us in both good and bad times.
Recently a friend reached out to ask if I could get a particular bottle of bourbon or two for her, and I offered to try. She ended up finding it faster than I did, but the supplier was not able to ship to her state. Unhappy with that outcome, she asked if she could ship it to my house, thinking that shipping to a different state would be the solution. Of course, my answer was yes; I was happy to help and maybe I could try a new bottle?! Turned out that also would not work, as the store did not ship to my state either. Unwilling to accept defeat, I found out where the store was and called a friend who lives nearby. She offered to send her colleague to pick them up and ship them out to my friend. 3+ degrees of separation resulted in bottles that would be delivered and a mission soon to be accomplished. Since a few of the bottles will be gifts to family and friends, the positive goodwill will be priceless.
Last week a friend from India called to let me know that a friend of his was going to be in my area. His friend was in town to drop off his daughter for her first year of college and my friend wanted to be sure he had the help he needed to get her set up. I offered my services, met his friend and had a great conversation. I assured him that if his daughter needed help with anything all she would have to do is reach out; I even took him to a friend’s house for a whiskey tasting and BBQ! Because I offered to lend a hand, I now have a new friend who I enjoyed a great conversation with, and both he and his daughter have the security of knowing there is someone close by to lean on.
While we may not often think of the people in our personal lives as a network, they are quite a powerful one. We rely heavily on them as they do on us and often mutually benefit from each experience. Each time we grow our network we connect friends to friends; we build goodwill, and we help others. Because of this, I actively seek out opportunities to make connections for both myself and members of my network.
If you want to grow your network and are wondering about a good place to start, next time you travel, look to see who you may know that lives where you are going, or that may know someone who does. They may suggest things to do that are not the regular tourist traps or offer recommendations for places to eat and point you in the direction of a new and cool experience. They may even offer to meet you and you can make a new connection!
Networks can be amazing. How is yours? Are you mine, am I in yours? If not, why not?
“Networking is not about collecting contacts. Networking is about forming relationships.”– Unknown
This weekend, make a new connection.