"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." - Jane Howard
Marta worked at a bank for 20 years. During her career she rarely socialized with co-workers nor did she join any professional groups. She devoted her time to her husband and family, ensuring that their needs were met. At age 49 her husband unexpectedly asked for a divorce. Now at age 50 she finds herself alone a lot. She is single in a small town with only one friend. During her marriage, she relied on her family as her network. Now she seldom sees her sisters and her three grown children live on their own.
"No one should ever find themselves in this situation," says Kathleen Ronald, networking expert from Speaktacular in Los Angeles, California. "It is my belief that, yes, you do have a family and work, but foster friendships along the way too."
Regardless of circumstances, we all need a network. Networks bring us together as human beings to support each other with information and services. Here are 7 reasons why everyone needs a network.
- Networks provide valuable resources.
Surround yourself with experts in their fields. Get to know people from all walks of life so that when you need information you can turn to your network. Wouldn't it be great to know an auto mechanic, a computer guru and a talented lawyer? They may or may not provide services directly to you but they can steer you toward those who can best fulfill your situational needs. A great real estate lawyer, for example, can refer you to a top tax attorney.
- Networks save you time.
Why search the net for a Real Estate Agent or house cleaner when you can call a friend? Connecting with your network allows you to skip the research. For example, you notice a sunspot on your skin and have never been to a dermatologist. Wouldn't you rather work with a doctor recommended by a trusted friend or colleague? You'll walk into the office knowing that your friend has already had a good experience with the doctor.
- Networks reinforce the need for other people.
No matter how much technology advances, we still need people. They need us too. One of the joys of networking is passing on resources, people and information to others. Your co-worker, for example, tells you he's having trouble getting up the courage to ask for a raise. You mention a seminar you took on negotiation. He attends and thanks you for making such a big difference in his career.
- Networks round out your life.
Life can include many networks. Take a look at your current networks such as: spiritual, social and professional. Which networks are weak or non-existent? Refuel current networks or fire up new ones to round out your life. For example, when Teresa, a Silicon Valley professional had her first child, she didn't know any mothers with young children. She joined a new moms group where she gave birth at Sutter Hospital. From there, she began to build a network of working mothers and set up a childcare exchange.
- Networks cushion a crisis.
Life includes crises. Divorce, death and business failures - to name a few. When faced with these crises, you don't have to "go it alone." Lean on your networks to get referrals for professional, emotional and financial services you need. For example, if you abruptly find yourself without a job, people in your network often can and want to help. Since more than 70% of jobs come from word-of-mouth, your network is a great place to get quick job leads.
- Networks make it easier to meet new people.
New to your profession? Join a professional organization to meet others in your industry. For example, when Karen first took on a project management role, she joined the Project Management Institute. At breakfast meetings and conferences, she received great tips from seasoned professionals and met new clients. Want to find a significant other? Network more, because most people find significant others through their networks.
- Networks offer abundance.
Strong networks give you what you need when you need it. They also allow you to pass on to others what they need when they need it. Networks move you out of scarcity and into abundance - an abundance of resources, information and people. After years of building her networks, Kathleen Ronald says, "Every city I go to, I have friends there. It's the best feeling!" So when you head off to a place like New York City for the first time and don't know anyone there, ask people within your network to point you where to go and who to see.
Sue Brenner, Performance Coach and author, wants you to get the most out of life and work. That's why she wrote "The Naked Desk: Everything you need to strip away clutter, save time and get things done" - http://x.actionsymphony.com While youre there, get her free eZine, "Ignite Your Life."