The Importance of Connection

March 3, 2010

I came to an important personal realization in the past few weeks and throughout the past couple job searches.  It’s mostly common sense, but sometimes in the muck of job hunting, figuring things out and living “in transition” we forget.  It’s perhaps the number one rule for those of us looking for work or working solo…

Don’t Surround Yourself With Yourself

I’ll be the first one to admit…job hunting or being in transition is one of the loneliest times in a person’s life.  Whether we are married or single, there’s a good chance that we spend most of our time alone during the day and possibly the evening, as well.

Often, this time spent alone leads us to feel isolated and filled with doubt, anxiety and uncertainty.  This situation often causes us to lose focus and it usually slows our productivity.  I know, I’ve been in this situation more than I care to admit.  I also talk to a lot of people who are experiencing this.

But thanks to blogging, networking and using my local career center, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with others in many different ways…which has made all the difference in the world.  So if you’ve been spending way too much time by yourself whether you are job hunting or running your own company, here are few ideas…

Go to a coffee shop or bookstore for coffee

This is one of my favorite places to go when I’m feeling isolated and caged in.  Get a window seat if possible.  If you really want to be approachable don’t listen to your iPod or MP3 player.  In recent months I’ve had some great conversations with other coffee shop patrons…especially a woman I met from the Netherlands.  We talked about our countries and as we parted, she invited me to stay with her family if I ever visit her country.

Find a meetup group

There are meetup groups in your area about almost every topic…pick something that you’re interested in and attend a meeting.  I’ve attended a few of these groups and was amazed how much I had in common with other members.  In Chicago, there’s even a group for English Bulldog lovers…Check out meetup.com.

Attend a networking session

There are a lot of different networking sessions out there.  Some are held in more conservative locations such as a church, school or office.  Other networking sessions are held in social locations such as bars and restaurants.  It does not matter…the key thing is to put yourself out there.  Practice your elevator pitch.  Also, approach the event as an opportunity to help other people, not the other way around.  Last summer, I attended a networking event where I had the opportunity to help a recent college grad in my field and it was a really rewarding experience for me.

Create or find an accountability group

In recent years, I have witnessed and experienced the magic of group support.  Call it an accountability group or a mastermind group…the important thing is that you have an opportunity to share what you’ve learned or ask questions in a supportive environment.  While these groups do offer its members opportunities to complain and commiserate, they are intended to hold members accountable and motivated to take action.  Visit your local career center to find out more about these groups.  While I haven’t read the book yet, Keith Ferrazzi’s Who’s Got Your Back? touches on the importance of these “lifeline” groups. 

“Army of One” may have been a marketing slogan from the U.S. Army a couple years back, but it doesn’t need to be our motto during a job hunt or during time spent as owner of a small business.

How about you…what are your favorite ways to remain connected?

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of Extra Medium.

1 Lori March 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Hi Tim,

I think you’ve hit upon a most important point — and the great thing about your post is that instead of just talking about the subject, you provide some really great solutions.

I mean, these are really great ideas!

While I understand there are many reasons people feel isolated, since my experience is much more because of ‘physical’ isolation, I’d like to add one thing if you don’t mind.

Skype! I found that reaching out and actually hearing other’s voices either by phone or by a live Skype session (which is free!) also helps to combat isolation and stimulate creative thought.

Thanks again for this post, Tim. I was actually going to ask you about this very thing — thanks for reading my mind again.

Hope all is well in Chi Town!
🙂

2 Lance March 3, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I think, that as a species, humans have a deep desire to connect with others. And yet, we hold ourselves back…maybe not sure what the other person will think of us, or wondering if we’ll be accepted, or look/act weird, etc. Our mind is great at making excuses. When we get beyond that, though, what a wonderful place…our world, and all the amazing people in it.

And I might add that our demeanor can have a real impact. When we display an open-ness, this is much more inviting for others to “test the waters”. And you never know what could lead into something really great…

Great stuff Tim!
.-= Lance´s last post…RAOKA: Passion =-.

3 Tim March 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Hi Lori: Thank you for bringing up Skype. I’ve been hearing from many people how great it is…and the fact that there is a video element to it makes it even better. It truly makes the world smaller and the quality of our interactions bigger. In recent weeks I’ve had some very interesting and enlightening group interactions which really made me realize how similar our experiences really are. I really sense that, in all cases, all of us felt better after these interactions because we were able to express our feelings and offer suggestions and encouragement. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this and best wishes on a sunny week!

Hi Lance: I don’t think I could have expressed it as well as you did. I can certainly identify with the holding back part. Having been through all of these group experiences in recent weeks has made me realize that there is a lot to be said for these “lifeline” connections…perhaps we shouldn’t wait until we’re “in transition” to experience them. Thanks for sharing some great thoughts and for sending your good vibes here!

4 Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord March 10, 2010 at 7:24 am

First of all, I love that idea of giving free hugs. Super cool and I wonder if we could get Katie at The Levity Project to start THAT as a micromovement?!

Next, I couldn’t agree with you more about the feelings of isolation that being alone most of the day can produce. I’m single AND I work from home, so unless I seek out connections, I could easily go for days at a time without physically seeing anyone else.

Your suggestions are great. Actually, through volunteering for a spiritual organization starting last year, I met a handful of women who are now like family to me. Whenever I need a hug, I call one of them up and they happily oblige.

Much love & peace to you!

5 Tim March 10, 2010 at 9:27 am

Hi Megan: Yeah, I think the whole free hugs thing might catch on—that is a good idea for Katie. It’s good to hear that your volunteering has led to strong connections for you. My situation is similar to yours and I know I’ve spent a lot of time being my own army of one. But I’ve been reminded a lot lately just how important our connections really are to our happiness. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts here!

6 Ana Goncalves March 23, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Dear Tim,

It is interesting as I just responded to one of your previous entries which was about networking, and the importance of connection within that.

I feel that connection originates from the sense that we are all one. I feel this sense is part of us, and even if we are alone we can still feel connected to the whole.

I think it is important to establish that difference when making connections with people, especially in regards to when we feel miserable on our own. This feeling might be rooting from some place else inside ourselfs. Even though it may feel like a sense of separation, it may not be a good idea to interact with others on that notion.

I think it is important to understand ourselfs first, and how we see ourselfs in the bigger picture, before encountering such connections with others. I feel this importance stems from who we are, our source and the rest follows.
.-= Ana Goncalves´s last post…Inner Guide =-.

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