Tina Dix“It doesn’t matter what their title is, they are all still people.”

Tina Dix, CEO of OUR Credit Union in Royal Oak, Michigan took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about how she uses networking to support her efforts to grow and maintain her organization. According to her, one of the biggest mistakes that new networkers in the credit union industry make is letting another person’s position or education put up a wall between you.

“Everyone has problems. They have car trouble. They dropped off the kids late to school. They didn’t get enough sleep last night.” These are all shared experiences where we can make a connection. It doesn’t only have to be through the tiny miseries of day-to-day life that we draw closer. Sometimes it’s through our success, too.

Tina told me how she started in the industry more than thirty years ago as a part-time teller. She worked her way up through the ranks, and, with the support of supervisors and mentors, she worked in many of the positions in the organization. Three years ago, in March 2013, she became the CEO and quickly discovered one of the greatest benefits of a strong network.

“When you become CEO, everyone wants to talk with you, but you don’t have anyone you can talk with.” Fortunately, through her participation on the Board of the Oakland County Chapter of the Michigan Credit Union League, she has developed strong relationships with other credit union executives who have shared the same experiences. They have the common ground that helps them support each other in their roles as “master jugglers” — keeping all the balls in the air at the same time.

If she had one piece of advice for those who are building their networks, it would be to “get out of your comfort zone. Walk up to groups of strangers and join in the conversation.” You probably already share common obstacles in your day. Maybe together you can find ways around them.