Spoiler alert: If you’ve never seen “It’s a Wonderful Life”, just skip this post right now. I’m warning you, I will be giving away the whole storyline of the movie.

In the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life“, George Bailey, the character played by Jimmy Stewart, gets to find out how life would have turned out differently had he never been born. He discovers without his presence in the lives of his fellow townspeople, the future would be dark indeed.

What if we placed that same dark mirror before us, but this time it is not we who were never born, but instead suppose we lost all of the benefits provided by our networks.

Let’s see, for me, at least, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into graduate school — I was originally turned down and my boss at the time was the one who went to bat or me and got the admissions committee to re-consider. That would have meant that my entire career (over 17 years!) at the University would probably have been in jeopardy. It also would have meant that I wouldn’t have met Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville, the founders of Argus, Inc, who gave me my first freelancing job.

I wouldn’t have gotten most of my clients after that point, either, since it was Peter who quite often put me in contact with them. Speaking of my other clients, even those that Peter didn’t refer to me, most of them came from a friend, colleague, or networking partner passing my name along. So effectively my company would cease to exist.

Without a network, I would be reduced to finding a job through ads on Craig’s List. I heard a statistic the other day that 60-80% of all jobs are never advertised — so, all word of mouth. I’m guessing the leftovers aren’t the real cream-of-the-crop careers.

Then comes the biggest networking event of my life.

I would never have met my wife. My daughter would never have been born. The home I would have been living in would be merely a house (or more likely a tiny apartment). All the vacations that I’ve been able to experience would never have happened since it’s always Lisa who is motivated to travel and do the required planning.

What a dark and dismal life.

You know what? I think I’m going to keep my network. Living in Bedford Falls seems like a much better deal than Potterville. In fact, I think I’d better get busy showing my gratitude to my colleagues, connections, and friends. They’ve given me so much more than I could possibly repay.