Who do you spend your time with? The people at work? Your immediate family? Close friends? Your sports team? Many of us live very insular lives and we don’t realize that our networks are shrinking as we get older. And they most certainly do – especially once you’ve graduated from high school, college or university.
Take a moment to stop and think about your support network. It is a small, close knit group of friends? Or perhaps you prefer spending most of your time with your immediate family. Since the majority of us spend 8-10 hours per day at a job or an office, at least a third of our time is spent with the people we work with. What kind of a relationship do you have with the people you work with?
Many years ago, I worked for Dupont Canada in Mississauga. We had a very close knit team and years later I would still connect with people from the office or drop by for a visit. Last week, I ran into a few friends who are still working there, and even though it had been a few years since we’ve seen each other, it was a very warm reunion. That was a very special work environment and we really had the sense that people truly cared about each other and that there was a lot of support – even after someone moved on to a new department or a new job outside the company.
When I made some fairly big decisions about business last year, suddenly the support network I had built over three years was no longer there. There were many reasons why it was difficult to maintain these relationships, and I am certain that we did have much more in common then a shared business, but it remains that mostly we have gone our separate ways.
Over the past year, I have been rebuilding my support networks. First, it was important to solidify my relationship with my family, and extended family. This is always a challenge when your parents are living in Mexico! My sister and I have become much closer this year, and that is a wonderful blessing.
I have also built some great relationships with a few different networking groups over the past year. I have found that it’s best to concentrate on one or two groups that meet on a regular basis, rather than trying to attend many different groups every month. One of my favorites groups is a ladies only meet-up called Ladies Fun Night Out & Networking. I have been a member for over a year and have met some wonderful and very successful women in this group.
Joining Trafalgar Toastmasters has also giving me the opportunity to create another great network. We have a very strong membership of people from all walks of life. The biggest challenge is finding enough time to socialize on meeting nights, since the agenda is always so full! We’ve suggested a pub night every Monday night to help solve this problem! I am very grateful for the support of our club, especially this weekend where I will be competing in the District 86 Evaluation Contest, representing our Division. In order to get to this level, I had to win at the Club, Area and Division levels. I am honoured to be representing our Club at this level of competition.
And finally, changing businesses and career paths has allowed me to create two more support networks. First, there is the group women I work with at Willowglen Montessori in Oakville (and our course the principal Rob!). They are a great group of people to work with! Second, there is the world-wide team of people I have met through Agel. Having attended 3 different global events this year, I have had the chance to connect with amazing leaders from around the world. I’ve made new friends, connected with powerful mentors and had the chance to be a part of the group that is going to help Agel to become a billion dollar company. Talk about a powerful network!
Take a look at your networks today. How would you do if one of your networks disappeared, say from the loss of a job or moving to another part of the country? Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve found yourself rebuilding your support network?
I am always happy to introduce good people to my networks, so if you’d like to connect with one of the networks I am a part of, just drop me a line or insert a comment. You can also connect with me on Twitter.