Old Friends and Networking Regret

“There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.”

~ Michael J. Fox

Jeff Gibbs and I were college roommates. Heck, we’d known each other and were friends since high school. He always joked that we guys who were over six feet tall were in the brotherhood of the bruised forehead (he was six foot five, towering over my measly six-two).

He could get into trouble in the usual ways of high school and college kids, but he had a big heart and intense loyalty to all his friends. I still remember the time in high school, when some jerks were making racial slurs against one of his friends. He shut them down fast. You do not want a guy his size coming after you!

After college he was a groomsman at my first wedding. In 90-degree heat, dressed in a black tux, he was seating relatives and friends at our outdoor ceremony. Like I said. Loyal.

Then we kind of went our separate ways. Oh, we would still get together now and then. I ran a gaming group for a while that he played in. We would meet for dinner. Sometimes a quick email here or there, but we each had our own lives and gradually those times together came less and less frequently. I think the last time we had contact was about fifteen years ago. We were friends on Facebook, and I kept thinking I should just drop him a note and see if we could get together. It never happened.

Then earlier this year on Facebook, I read that my good friend had passed away.

Regret is one of the worst emotions we can experience in our lives. It’s about loss — lost opportunities, lost friendships, lost potential. Worse, it’s a loss that, through our own action or inaction, we have chosen for ourselves.

Networking is all about the relationships. Oh, we mostly talk about it with respect to our businesses or careers. We think about how our relationships can bring us opportunities for professional success or financial gain. The trick to remember is that success isn’t only about the bottom line. The greatest fortune in the world has no real value if you have no one with whom to share it.

When you are reaching out to your networking contacts today, take a moment to think of someone with whom you’ve been meaning to reconnect. Find their email or phone number and reach out. Don’t worry about what you are going to say, just tell them you were reading a blog post today that made you think of them and you were wondering how they’ve been.

You’ll make their day.

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Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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