Street Smart Rule #1: Actively work to create an island of safety and creativity for yourself in a networked village of your cohorts.
(Please, please don’t wait till you’re drowning and expect someone to throw you a life preserver).
One of the most enduring myths we have, especially those of us who grew up in the west, is that a large measure of our success is how “self reliant” we are. After all, we’re told, that’s what the pioneers had. That’s what made America great.
My grandparents homesteaded a place at the foot of the Beartooth Mountains near Red Lodge, MT. They started with a virtual prairie wilderness and built a successful ranch. That first winter they lived in a tent along Volney Creek. And if you experienced a Montana winter or two you know it was brutal. Along the way they raised five successful kids.
The myth would have us believe they carved out a home by themselves with their own bare hands working from dawn to dusk.
And they did of course work and back breaking work it was, but they also had a “network” of family and neighbor who helped them when they needed help and who they in turn helped.
Somebody got sick and there was a helping hand to help with the plowin’.
They all called it just being neighborly. Ever hear of a “barn raisin’?
Of course, we’re sophisticated today, we call it networking, but I’m thinking that we would be better off thinking of as it being neighborly. Networking sounds a little too self serving, and selfish networking is self defeating.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s one of my rules and I’m lousy at it. I get distracted by the day to day routine. I lose track of my “neighbor”.
I have to remember to ask myself, “When’s the last time you helped someone with the plowin’….”
So I tell myself to lend a hand when someone needs it. Share an interest work on project; adopt an unselfish outlook on your relationships both personal and professional.
“Niceness” may not finish first in the short run, but my experience is that it makes for a good life in the long run.
The first rule of good networking is unselfish effort.