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Connecting through meaningful relationships Krista
Connecting through meaningful relationships
MACT assignment: build professional social network profile through LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+

First realization:

Although I have an on-line profile, my strongest networks are offline. At 40-something, I am part of an over-achieving, overcommitted, over-programmed generation of double income professionals who volunteer in their communities, shuttle children between organized sports, fund raise constantly and vacation in the tropics. Many of us are on second marriages or in the process of separating. Our spouses work shift work or out of town. On top of that, life happens: children in intensive care, major surgery, aging parents, learning disabilities. When I say: my-kids-have-events-in-different-cities-this-weekend-my-husband-works-nights-and-I'm-wired-at-work, my peers all nod cuz they can relate. 


So, perhaps I should read this assignment as: maximize professional social networks and generate value through existing connections. For me, "the way [I] understand and experience [my] own social networks" (week 10 blog assignment) is more than mathematical nodes, linkers and clusters. Networks are about people: relationships, value and meaning. And finding balance within this complex system is everything.


Stay positive: earn trust and bundt cake
Relationships are key. To achieve balance here, there's give and take. I shovel our elderly neighbour's driveway and she bakes me a bundt cake. If this is the extent of the relationship, we are just two nodes, trading shovelling and cake. But if I contact our local school, mention that our neighbour has eighteen elderly friends who all need help shovelling their driveways and I start a 'snow angels' program, I've become a linker. I've linked two previously non-connected clusters for mutual benefit. Linkages happen all the time, and the leading linkers have a few things in common: they think positive, they create trust (and they all like bundt cake). Franklin Covey's Speed of Trust workshops are about building relationships, and his first bit of advice is: "Start with self. Assess your behaviour. Are you behaving in ways that increase trust?" 


Imagine success
Next comes value. Between shovelling sidewalks and shuttling children, I've attended a conference or two. Some of the speakers are well paid, well connected, West Coast PhD's and others are younger upstarts, but their advice is always similar: 
  • set goals
  • have a plan and 
  • imagine what success looks like. 
That seems to make sense. Dare to dream! Define what's important, what you value and then its much easier to stay focussed, positive and balanced. Stay genuine and add value. Think "outside the cluster" or reach beyond your comfort zone to connect groups or share ideas. 

Find meaning

This is the trickiest part. The PhD helped you define your goals, your plan, your strategy, but now he's gone back to his West Coast beach house. Now what? You're left with a really great idea and a bunch of people who are overcommitted. Its time to think about what that goal means or what your intent is. What do you want people to do to make that big idea happen? In return, are you asking what you can do for others and listening carefully to their answers? Learn. Share. Connect. 

I have learned that growing professional social networks begins with relationships and trust, authenticity and accountability. Recognizing your potential to link groups that might not otherwise be connected adds value. Listening, sharing and learning adds meaning. We are surrounded by complex network systems, and recognizing our place within these networks is critical to our success. 




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