Yesterday was my forty-third birthday. We didn’t make a particularly big deal out of it. I was scheduled to teach Karate in the morning and again in the afternoon. Then we went down to visit my mom down in Perrysburg. We had a few snacks and then later went over to a friend’s for a party. The party wasn’t for me. It was one that she and her husband throw every year at this time.

Five or ten years ago, I might have been a little upset that no one made a big deal about My Special Day. You know what, though? Just spending a little quiet time with my family was quite nice. On top of that, the party was full of people whom I had met at one point or another in my networking practice. I couldn’t walk into a new room without someone wishing me a happy birthday and giving me a firm handshake or a hug.

Thinking about it now it makes me realize that this is yet another benefit of our networking practice. Of course, many of us network for business purposes — to bring in new clients or to help find solutions when the world presents a challenge or two. We also can depend on them for personal issues — helping us find a good doctor when we are feeling down or stepping up to mentor our children in the pursuit of their goals. On top of all of that, though, networking can provide us with what we might think of as an extended family structure.

Depending on how wide we cast our net, we may discover that we have “family” throughout our community, our state, or even the world. I don’t know about you, but that actually fills me with a little bit of hope. Who knows? Maybe if enough people developed supportive networks of friends and business connections we might even be able to solve some of the problems plaguing this old world.

We can hope.

Photo credit: Billy Alexander