THE POWER OF NETWORKING
By: Susan HaleyAt, what seemed to me the very tender age fifty-five, my husband was called to ‘greener gardens’. With him, went the culmination of our lifetime’s sowing of seeds. In the weeds of our abandoned garden, I took up habitation under a metaphorical rock. Networking? That was something to do with the Big Three broadcasting stations. I was unable to communicate with my own feelings much less other people. Nor, did I want to. Life was now lived in retrospect. There were to be no more harvests, only the mundane activity of survival. And that, driven more by instinct than desire.
equally driven to release the tempest inside me, I began writing with a
vengeance. Written words poured on a page could scream of my despair,
anger, my floundering. And, through their power, my healing. I learned
then, the first principle of ‘networking’ is meeting and getting to
know your ‘self’.
the course of time spent residing in a web of weeded seclusion,
venturing out only to perform the tasks of a job equally as dull as my
existence, I authored countless poems, essays, dissertations on
philosophy, and two books; all dredged from my very depths.
writing, I found a peace in nature, its simple creatures, and the
spatial and Cosmic wonders over my head. I reveled in the fury of storm
clouds and thunder and the rainbows that often followed. I pondered the
star trails, the wind currents, and the rising and setting of the
heavenly orbs. The promise of an ever-new was penned every morning by
the first fingers of dawn. I discovered my connection to God in the
Universe surrounding me, and in the depths of my soul. But it was a
solitary existence, and in the profound and oft-quoted words of John
Donne . . . “No man is an island.”
help and encouragement from a dear friend, there were now two published
books. I began to wonder if others struggling in the rock gardens of
life needed the outstretched hand of a fellow sojourner, albeit through
written words. But, I’d need a vehicle to connect, to find them, or
help them find me. I joined the Florida Writers Association because of
its motto: “Writers Helping Writers”. I didn’t need the last word
of that slogan; “Writers helping” was sufficient. I wanted to give,
to share my work. And, I needed to receive. That, for me, is the second
principle of networking . . . giving and receiving.
by the President of the FWA, Dan Griffith, I soon found myself agreeing
to lead a chapter in
night of the first FWA meeting, I learned that if I’d take a step
forward, others would do the same; they’d meet me in the middle. To
ripple a pond, all one must do is throw in their pebble. Next, I started
tossing pebbles into the ponds of other writing groups, assuring them we
were all under the same creative umbrella. FWA wasn’t an invader of
their independence, but a support net; its fibers reaching across the
state and beyond.
became apparent that the third principle of networking was doing
something; doing, rather than waiting or expecting someone else to do it
for me. It’s attending workshops and conferences, visiting bookstores
and related places of business. It’s researching reading clubs,
organizing events, becoming familiar with the local publications and
media. Most important of all, it’s offering an outstretched hand, a
smile, a welcome, a thank you.
I then discovered a fourth principle of ‘networking’. Balance. It’s being willing to learn as well as teach, to listen as well as speak. It’s being a shoulder to lean on as well as seeking one on which to lean. It’s giving encouragement as well as looking for it. It’s attempting to be what others would wish to emulate and creating something others would want to use or share, or in my case, read.
summing all of these premises into a package of principles, I’d
purport that networking with others is quite comparable to networking
with life itself. You, first, get to know yourself. In so doing, you
discover and get to know your faith and the wonders around you.
you acknowledge that in order to receive, you first must give. The old
adage . . . what you give comes back to you seven-fold can be applied to
anything from good manners to good business, from levels of success to
levels of failure.
networking is doing something. I’m not sure I agree with the other old
adage that “all comes to those who wait” unless speaking of our
demise. We do have to take responsibility in the creating of our life.
To me, that is the meaning behind the ‘in His image’ teaching.
It’s the tossing of your pebbles in the pond, the perpetuation of
action begetting reaction.
possibly most importantly, it’s imperative to maintain a balance
between your expectations and your contributions. I’d say that this
entire business of ‘networking’ is as circular as the Universe we
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