Yesterday we had the chance to expand our network. We had met another couple and their kids a few weeks back, and had set a date to get together. Our initial plan was to go bowling, but when we arrived, there were no lanes available to play (Sunday is a big league game day, as we were reminded).
So, we went back to our home, and the kids played, and the adults talked.
In many ways, our families are similar, and it is always nice to reaffirm certain beliefs and actions regarding the professional and personal actions we take (including parenting, which is never easy).
It seemed, at the end of the evening, as they were leaving that we had expanded our web of connections, which is something that is important to do in all of our learning and leadership work.
The thing about connections is that we never know how they are going to turn out. At times, what we think might be a short-term relationship becomes a life-long connection. At other times, we might believe that we’ve found a network that will stand the test of time, only to have it evaporate or fall apart even before it truly forms.
So, it isn’t surprising that forming new relationships requires us to go a bit out on a limb. In some ways, we’re exposed through the process, and since we’re now involving the thoughts, beliefs, and ideals of different people, even if we believe things are going well, it doesn’t mean that they always do.
As leaders, therefore, we must make sure that we recognize that relationship-building takes time, and it isn’t always about “us” in the individual sense. Rather, it is about “us” in the collective.
We also have to remember that a relationship that doesn’t form right away isn’t necessarily a relationship that should be abandoned. Sometimes, when appropriate, it can take multiple tries to get a relationship off the group.
The key to remember is that a failed relationship should provide learning for all, but it isn’t a reflection on any one party’s ability to network. We all need relationships to continue to grow, and not everyone is a fit for all. That’s why we need to always expand the web, and work our hardest to make connections that will last.