The overwhelming majority of articles related to networking focus on expanding your business exposure, increasing the profile of your brand (either personal or professional), or some other hardwired business impact.
However one of the most under-reported benefits directly tied to expanding your professional network has nothing to do with your image or business—but instead, your resiliency.
Recently I attended a conference as part of my membership in a professional organization. This is the same conference I’ve attended for nearly ten years. Colleagues have become friends.
These friendships have strengthened and endured over the years. With the benefit of technology, staying connected is easier than ever. While we have a connection and bond that is distinct, it didn’t happen at once. It grew over time. We started with a spark—a connection, and really nurtured the fire.
Our lives are now so interconnected, this group is often who I text when I want to share amazing news, have a difficulty problem, or need someone to kick my ass with some tough love! I can call them when I need to cry or want someone to make me laugh because of a horrible day. We celebrate successes and milestones with reckless abandon.
They are my tribe, they get me.
What keeps us coming back…
Many leadership roles can be lonely within an organization. Vulnerability among peers may be challenging, individuals above you may be disconnected from your own problems or critical of your frustrations or issues, and subordinates are never a wise place to seek solace. Add to this, the concerns of politics, or hidden agendas.
However, colleagues at other institutions in similar roles can provide this companionship, without the threat of direct competition.
Sharing similar problems and goals give you a fantastic appreciation for one another. They offer an outsiders perspective, a very knowledgeable outsider at that. You truly understand their struggle, and they yours, often with little or no backstory required for them to get it.
These relationships help you overcome challenges, build you back up when needed and metaphorically (although sometimes literally) refill your cup.