Last weekend I dropped by the Alberta Provincial AA Men's Baseball Championship to watch my old team compete. Their coach, who I have known for over 35 years, invited a bunch of alumni players to come root for this new version of the team.
Of course, once many of us arrived we spent as much time catching up and remembering old times as we did watching the game. When the game was over, we all shook hands and went our separate ways, some with plans to stay in touch.
But for a brief time, the years disappeared and once again we were a Band of Brothers. It was amazing, as it had been 15 plus years since I had gotten together with my former teammates. Yet, for all the time passing it felt like no time had passed at all. Yes we were all older, with hairlines that were a little thinner and belt lines that were a little thicker, but the bonds forged long ago were still strong.
Why bring this up in a business blog? Good question.
Last week, I also met with a former colleague over coffee, who was struggling to get his business up and running, in his profession. He was trying to determine the best network avenues to take and how to "work a function".
Over my years of business coaching, one of the most frequent questions I have been asked by people in sales, is how do I network? Where do I find people to talk to?
Networking is a great way to meet people, but most of us find a "networking function" uncomfortable at best. People handing out business cards hoping to 'land a winner', just like kids trading sports cards. "Hey, I'll trade you four of these cards I have no use for, for that winner I know is hidden in your hand."
There is a place for these events, don't get me wrong. But so often we miss the hidden gems that are lying in our past.
Networking is about building relationships.
And relationships are built strong over time and, fast over a sense of coming together for a common goal through adversity.
Look back to your past for those teams, groups, and organizations you spent a significant amount of time with, fought a figurative war with, or just laughed a lot with.
You may say to yourself, "I haven't kept in touch with these people; they won't want to see me anymore". I disagree. Most often they will welcome you with open arms and all that will be remembered will be the good times. Petty differences will be long forgotten and put away. Your network will open up with your Band of Brothers.
Going forward, find more groups and teams to experience life with. First, you will find fulfillment by being where your interests take you and secondly, and your network will never be dry.
It will be flush with relationships that are meeting everyone's needs.