You love your people, but…
What happens when you know a ton of people, and like them, and relate to them, and know you can call on them for whatever you need, but somehow, they never seem to have what you need? What if your ‘great’ network just isn’t helping you get where you need to go?
First of all, let’s take a moment and recognize that your network probably is giving you a lot of things you need, even if they aren’t obvious. Stuff like moral support and friendship and somebody to hash out your latest family drama with are hella valuable, my friends, so let’s not be hasty and bail on anybody, even if they aren’t much help in stuff like (for example) career advancement.
Birds of a feather fail together
So back to why they’re not much help in certain ways. It could be because, as the old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. We all naturally tend to associate with people who are as much like us as possible. The rich hang out with the rich, nerds hang out with nerds, churchgoers hang out with churchgoers, etc. Which can be great, in one sense. It’s comforting, familiar, and supportive.
But it’s also limiting. People who are just like us tend to have a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses as we do. Which means if we need any other strengths, or any help overcoming those weaknesses, people who are just like us aren’t going to be much help. When we are all in the same boat, there are things we just can’t do for each other.
Imagine a carpenter who wants to build a house, for example. This person hangs out with other carpenters. That’s great. The carpentry aspects of this house will be super solid. But what about the plumbing? What about the electrical? Zoning? Permits? Interior design?
You get the picture. This carpenter better get busy finding some trustworthy non-carpenters, quick, or the whole enterprise is doomed. In fact, it would be better if those non-carpentry relationships start quite some time before the project starts because in a big expensive project like that, trust built from long association can save a lot of money and hassle.
Balance your comfy with some courageous
Which is why it’s important to break out of that
comfort zone of the birds of our feather and try to build some contacts who a
re different from us. Social scientists call this the difference between bonding and bridging social capital.
Both are important, and ideally, we achieve a balance. Bonding is comfy and homey and valuable in one way, but also limiting. Bridging is valuable in a different way, but also scarier and harder. It’s that old ‘no risk, no reward’ thing. You can stay where you’re comfortable and accept your level of progress, or you can occasionally go out where you’re less comfortable and win the chance to go further, faster.
If you’d like to break out of your comfort zone and build a more diverse network to help you achieve your goals, we can help. Our online course, Network where you think you can’t, is designed to help you navigate the tricky landscape of connecting with people who are different from us. Check it out.