Networking For Life - My Final Lesson

H.Dean Hua

This is a rather long post, but bear with me here...

If I may, I'd like to share with you a backdrop of who I am and why I believe networking is so important and why I started this network back in January. Who knows, maybe some of you may relate to my story and upbringing.

A long time ago, I had gotten hold of a book called, "People Power: 12 Principles To Enrich Your Business Career & Personal Networks." The book was written by a Donna Fisher. She's written numerous books on networking and if memory serves me correctly, she was also a colleague of Scott Allen as well.

I never did get through the whole book but there was one takeaway that I got from it from the very start. In the book, the author documents the fact that people who have strong emotional & social ties live longer than those who score low on their "social network index." A corresponding report verifies the fact that the death rate is twice as high in unsociable women as it is in sociable women and three times higher for unsociable men.

This really hit me hard because those facts reminded me of my own youth, especially when I was in high school. I never truly felt like I belonged anywhere in high school. I didn't feel like I had a strong network. I had friends, but sometimes, you can have friends and still not feel like you belong in this world. That was me.

There were many times in high school where I simply didn't feel like I belonged. I dreaded when the lunch period began. This meant that I had to have or hang out with my own clique per se. I mean after all, who wants to be a loser and eat lunch by himself? But there were times where I felt alone and had no one to talk to.

But time passed and I attended college and matured quite a bit. Even in college, there were times that I felt alone and lost. After graduation, I stumbled a bit through life until I got to where I am today-- a greater understanding of people and the power of a network.

So when I read those facts in Donna Fisher's book, I realized that I didn't want to be someone who died early without any type of a network. I didn't want to go through life without connections or without feeling "connected." But there was more to it than that.

As many of you know, networking can be a powerful business tool. It can help you find your next job, your next client, your next partner, and so forth. But to me, networking is so much more. As a kid who grew up and lacked his own network, I have learned the hard way that networks and networking is a powerful way to connect and form communities of all kinds. It can help create a sense of belonging.

Where ever you go, you see communities of all sorts. A group of friends, a church, a book club, an online network, a network of bloggers, a business networking mixer, a house warming party- these are all varying types and forms of communities.

Communities and networks satisfy a very basic need-- the need to belong. That need was not fulfilled for me growing up. I never felt like I belonged to any type of network or community. I can only suspect that there may be many other kids who felt the same way.

Effective networking can be life affirming. Networking can afford us many things in life. Aside from financial capital, networking can afford us social capital, emotional capital, and spiritual capital. In essence, networking makes us richer in this world. Because the most important things in this world aren't things at all, but are relationships; the ones we build and the ones we destroy. The relationships we have with our clients, colleagues, friends, spouse, children, and others, can make us wealthier people.

Like anyone in this world, I realize that I do have weaknesses. We all do. I realized that a couple of my own key weaknesses was that I wasn't blessed with social graces. By nature, I am an introvert. Sometimes, being an introvert and trying to succeed in business networking can be tough. What do you say at a social function such as a networking event when you feel like you don't have anything to say at all? That is what I originally thought to myself. Little did I realize that I was completely wrong.

Through trial and error, I learned early on that I didn't need to be the most talkative person to win business or to win friends. Putting humility aside for the moment, I learned that there is one thing that I'm better at than most people could ever be, and that is understanding people and how remarkable relationships are formed. Just as a good poker player knows how to get a good read on people, a good networker knows how to read people as well. I knew that I had to understand before I could be understood.

I've always been a student of life, of business, and more importantly, of people. I read people. I study them. I collect them. I collect their interests, their passions, remember their birthdays, their children's names and so forth. I'm a profiler of sorts. And why shouldn't I be? The heart of good networking and building remarkable relationships is all about people and understanding who they are. Remember, seek first to understand before you can be understood.

I guess I can't change what happened in the past. We are who we are because of our past. Our past helped shaped our current present. My past has made me a better man and a better person. I'm grateful for what I lacked because it helped me appreciate what I have today. If there was any type of wisdom that I could impart with the myriad of discussions that we've had on this network for the past 10 months: it is that networking isn't just important for today and tomorrow but that it is important for the rest of your life. It's not just an important tool for business success but it's an important tool for life success.

I hope that on some small level that I've contributed to your knowledge base and have helped you learn how to build more remarkable relationships in business and in life. Because for me, nothing is more important in this world than the relationships I've established with people; be it here or anywhere else for that matter.

I thank you all for your contributions to this little community that we've created. I've gotten quite a few private compliments about how much some people really enjoy this network. They've learned a lot and they have contributed as much also. I think, if anything, you have all confirmed what I've been saying all along: that we all have a need to belong and that networks and networking are ways to accomplish this. I hope that you will come to discover as I have, that networking isn't just for today and tomorrow, but for the rest of your life.

Sincerely,
H. Dean Hua

H. Dean Hua ||
Managing Principal & Chief Web Evangelist SachiStudio ||
http://www.sachistudio.com
Web Design & Strategic Blogging Consultancy

re: Networking For Life - My Final Lesson.

Dave Orsborn
Thanks Dean- this is one of the finest posts I have ever read.
Best,
Dave

re: Networking For Life - My Final Lesson.

Stephen Hall
Wow I remember High School back in the 60's, I had friends but I was also a shy person. I went around with a band social circle, the in crowd, so to say, but I was lonely at times. I learned to cope with life, as it came at me !
Matter of fact it took me 50 careers to find myself. Plus 3 marriages and 4 kids to learn to grow up and settle down.
PS: I am the reunion committee for Carlmont 1965 Reunion and can't get anyone else to help get the people together, except one gal who offered to help. I sent messages to over 70 students on classmates and got about 16 responses back....
I guess the people don't care to go back, why? Bad memories I guess, I would love to find out what happened to my friends, in their lives. Where have they gone, be it good, or bad, it's your life, so live it to the fullest....
Sharing is networking
Steve Hall

re: Networking For Life - My Final Lesson.

Traci Knoppe
Hi Dean - very well said. I too was shy most of my life - to the point of being almost crippled by fear. No more! I won't bore you with all those details - just wanted to say that I hope we will still "see" you here at Ryze on the various networks we're on together. You are not alone my friend. :-)
Traci

re: re: Networking For Life - My Final Lesson.

H.Dean Hua
Hi,
Thanks to everybody for the public and private compliments. I was glad to hear that so many others can relate and we are never eating alone :)

If I may ask for one favor. Just one tiny favor is all I ask. If you feel that I've contributed enough to your own knowledge base, I would appreciate an endorsement for my LinkedIn profile. I feel that endorsement is a confirmation of your character and competence. I hope that on some level that I've shown both on this network.

So if we are connected directly [and I know many of us are], all that I ask is you write a brief endorsement of 3-4 sentences for me. You can put it under my current business for Sachi Studio or under my "Professional Networker & Educator" title as well. Either way works for me.

I do not like to approach people privately about this because I do not wish to burden anyone nor make you feel uncomfortable. So I would rather let people know publicly and hope that you will take a couple minutes to write a well thought out endorsement. Here is my profile; http://www.linkedin.com/profile?viewProfile=&key=600199

And one more thing. I typically work with small companies and service professionals [coaches, consultants, solo professionals] who are starting out in the entrepreneurial phase of their business and need a well designed website to help get their message across. If you work or run into these type of professionals and do not know of any other web design teams that you feel comfortable referring business to, I hope that my company, Sachi Studio can represent you. As Althea would say, "I am never too busy for your referral." :)

Later,
Dean