Another kind of network effect

Why, when faced with an opportunity to get to know someone better do we so often pull back? We might say to ourselves we don’t have time, we have other plans, we just don’t have the bandwidth right now. Why do we resist deepening our connections to those around us?

Is it that we fear tripping up, saying the wrong thing, being exposed as an imposter? Is that we fear they will eventually ask for more than we can give?

When we resist the communities that surround us, we isolate and become islands. At first it can feel good to be an island. It’s safe and predictable. We’re free to go about our business without risking negative feedback, having to do anything we don’t want to, without the fear of being asked for more.

The problem with being an island is you don’t notice when the important things slowly start to erode. Perhaps you no longer know anyone in your building. That’s okay until you go on vacation and there’s no one to water your plants or empty your mailbox.

The thing about building relationships in a network is it takes time and of course, there’s risk. Perhaps you won’t be liked or your ideas won’t be supported. Perhaps you won’t always be understood. But when problems come up, the network is there to support you. Perhaps others in the network are experiencing the same thing and suddenly big problems don’t seem so big after all.

We have to invest in our networks just as much as we invest in ourselves.