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March 27, 2017

Networking. What’s the Point?

Relationships are important. Not only that, but they cover all areas of our lives. Think about it.  There are family, friends, and coworkers. However, there is also extended family, friends’ children, coworkers’ families, church family, community groups, parents of those our kids go to school with. The bottom line is that anywhere there are people, there is a potential relationship. Sure, they cover different areas of our lives, and yes, sometimes they cross paths and cover multiple areas, but I think that is a good thing. As I’ve gotten older, I can see how crucial my relationships have been at different points in my life. To put it into more of a “business” terminology, I guess I’d say that this criss crossing of paths and introductions to others by those we have formed relationships with is what creates that beautiful thing we like to call a network!
Networking. Networking. Networking. You’ve heard the phrase.  You’ve heard it talked about by leaders in the industry, college professors, your parents (especially when it came to finding your first professional type job), etc. Essentially, this word is a reminder to use your resources. In thinking about my “network” of friends, I can confidently say that I have a doctor, a nurse, a dietician, a farmer, a coach, an accountant, a realtor, a teacher, a banker, a firefighter, a baker, a pastor, a dog musher, a dog breeder, a graphic designer, an actor, an architect, a counselor, an artist, a musician, a chef, a pro athlete, a mechanic (cars and planes) and a pilot at my finger tips. I know people in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Idaho, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Hawaii, and Alaska. All of those people know other people…and that is just scratching the surface!
I’m sure there are some of you out there thinking “Well that is nice for you Merry, but I don’t have that.  I’m not a super social person either, so where in the world am I supposed to start finding people to extend and build up my ‘network?” I’ll have you know that while I know how to be social, I am an introvert by nature. Just ask Gabe.  He’ll tell you. If I have the option to be out and about with others, or be at home, I’d pick home every time. Hands down! My network has developed through getting out of my comfort zone over a span of 11 years. I moved away from home when I was 18, and have spent my time since then building relationships and investing in others, which has lead to introductions to others. What started out as a small initial group got bigger as friends introduced me to their parents, or people with similar interests or personalities, or people experiencing things in life that I could help through my own experiences. In this network I have been mentored. I have mentored others.  I have given my time to friends kids. I have cried tears of joy and grief. I have gotten jobs. I have done skill exchanges. My challenge for you is to think about who you already have established relationships with, and be intentional with them. You’ll be amazed at what can happen!
Most recently this led to a speaking engagement at a local college. The topic – “How to Use Your Camera.” Gabe and I met up with a friend  and her husband at a coffee shop a few months back. She had been in a snowboarding accident and undergone surgery a few weeks before and we wanted to see how she was doing with her physical therapy. In catching up she began to tell us about an event she was putting on as part of a class she was taking. She wanted to put on a Photography seminar in which students could learn how to better use their cameras. As we were talking I saw the connection take place in her head, almost as visibly as a light bulb going on, and she asked me to be her speaker. The seminar took place last Friday, and while I wish I had photos of it, I was busy speaking! However, from it I have decided to do a series about how to better use your camera!
So on that note, stay tuned. I have something to teach you if you’re interested in learning young grasshopper!
Talk to you soon!

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