Networking is all about creating connections. We seek out commonalities in order to bridge the isolation that almost everyone feels at one time or another. In fact, some of the best event techniques involve asking questions in order to find those common points of interest. As a result, we end up with a strong, supportive network which can help us survive our darkest times.

One organization that makes use of this concept to a noble end is Ele’s Place. They support grieving children (and their families) who’ve had to deal with the death of a parent or sibling. I learned a lot about Ele’s Place this afternoon from the Managing Director of its Ann Arbor office, Wendy Brightman.

Wendy spoke at this month’s Abundance Forum. She painted a compelling picture of the need for their supportive programs in our community. One point she made in particular really struck home for me. She said that one of the challenges that these kids face is the feeling of being completely alone — of being different from everyone around them. Very few, if any, of their classmates have experienced a similar loss. That isolation can cause profound problems in the child’s life if left unattended.

Ele’s place provides a venue where these youngsters can connect with others who have experienced similar trauma. Because they all have this shared experience, they can feel safe to explore their own feelings around each other. Unlike their school or church, they are surrounded by other kids who understand. This gives them the support they need to not only survive, but start the healing process that will help them find a new sense of “normal” in their lives.

As good networkers we have to take responsibility to support those in our network. Connecting them with the resources that might help them succeed goes beyond just success in business. If someone in your network is struggling with the loss of a family member, tell them about the good work done by the dedicated folks at Ele’s Place. You’ll have the satisfaction of not only building stronger connections, but of having a profound and positive impact on someones life.