Building a network around you can help you survive the tough times!
I read an article regarding Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs after reading about how many unemployed people there are in the US and how many may be falling into financial ruin.
Level one is physiological needs for food, water, warmth, and rest—level 2 a need for safety, employment, money, and security. Then there are level 3 of belonging, community, family, and connections. The article discussed how someone would meet level one and level two before looking at the next level of need. I thought about the people I talk to and see around town who are homeless, living in tents, trying to stay warm, dry, fed, and safe and how this applied to them. Were their needs met, and where did they fall on the hierarchy of needs?
There are always community outreach programs to help the homeless meet those basic needs, but I have noticed that many know each other and share information. In essence, they have a network, it may not look like my network, but it does work the same way.
That took me back to an article that I wrote for the book, Masters of Networking, titled, Mothers, are Natural Born Networkers. It is the story of my experience of being a single mother of two who was working hard to take care of level one and level two needs.
I always struggled to make ends meet, to have what I needed for my daughters to be healthy and happy. I signed up for public assistance to receive help from the state as I struggled to get my feet under me. During this time, I unknowingly developed a network. A network of other mothers who were in the same dire situation that I was in. I would meet the women at the food pantry or the clothing bank. I would see them at the church during the week, or we would chat as we stood in line for food stamps. On occasion, we would meet in a park with our kids so they could play. When I needed something, they would tell me which pantry to go to and on what day that pantry had the items I needed, like diapers, paper towels, and household goods. They told me what days and times the food banks had fresh items and where the places were that I could get help with rent and utilities and who I should ask for when I was there.
The mothers had an okay working word of mouth network. Any information needed could be gleaned from this Mom network if they knew you and liked you. Looking back, I realized I learned a lot about networking at that time. I networked my way into a program funded by the state to help mothers find jobs, and I knew all the ins and outs of running an office. I completed that program top of the class, and I was the first one offered a job upon completion. I went to work for an entrepreneur who was starting a new business, but I stayed connected to some of those women for a very long time.
It occurred to me that sustained survival requires a network or community! If we have a network that we can turn to when things are tough, we can meet physiological and safety needs, and indeed, that network can sustain us. We can only go it alone for so long before we succumb to defeat and exhaustion, and that can be deadly both to our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
Networks are for more than business, as I learned many years ago. Having a network is essential in our life. Here are three networks we all need to have.
- Your Support Network – these are the people who are there to help you when you need it. They are the people who will pick up your mail, bring groceries if you need them, watch your kids when you are looking for a job. These are the people you help and they are there to help you to.
- Your Information Network – these are the people who have the information you may find yourself needing.
- Your Social Network – these are the people you often hang out with, go to dinner, events and relax with. This network is usually happy to introduce you to others in their networks when you ask for a connection.
Take some time and go through the people in your phone, your social media, in your church or school, and places you have worked, sort them out likely have a few that can fall into each category. Take time and reach out to those you have not talked to lately, reconnect, find out how they are doing, and find ways to help them. Find ways that you can collaborate to support each other. When you have a network or community of people that practice helping and collaborating, you will find it much easier to get through the hard times.
There are few women better at building a global network than Hazel Walker. Renowned for her straight talk and no-holds-barred approach, Hazel is a globally sought after speaker.
This Walker This Way video talks about having a strong network during the trying times!