Monday, September 14, 2015

Knowing Your Neighbors

Don't be this guy!
Growing up I knew all the neighbors especially the few other kids on our small street. It was nice being able to go from house to house, yard to yard, and know that I could always be reached if I was needed at home (this was before cell phones). It really was like having a giant front yard where we could play, go sledding, or ride our bikes. Everyone knew everyone.

While I still make a point to introduce myself to our neighbors, I am not as diligent on making sure I meet each one. I guess there is something about the impermanence of renting that just makes it seem like there are better ways I could spend my time. This is rather selfish, I admit, but, oddly enough, it has also allowed me to spend the time getting to know more people. Rather than going out of my way, I let things happen and eventually, I am able to meet everyone and find out a little bit about those who live and work around me.

I just let things happen and when we have a chance to meet I do my best to engage in an interesting conversation. Of course, those of you who know me also know that when you get me talking it is almost always going to be a lengthy discussion regardless of the topic. So, in the end, I guess you could call this passive aggressive networking. So far it has worked for me (at home, work, and lodge) and I have gotten to know some great people this way.

I enjoy working with people on a daily basis and find that this approach allows me to treat others as friends more than just someone who lives or works near me and I have treated these relationships accordingly. And the mutually beneficial aspects have been fantastic. We all have different networks of people and sometimes we can connect others either because of business or common interest. While I have given business to others, a number of people have introduced me to contacts that have, in turn, saved me a heck of a lot of time and money.

What I am trying to say is don’t just learn someone’s name. Get to know those around you. Know what your neighbors do for a living (I will try to do a better job of this when we are in a place that we own). Know what your colleagues’ interests are and those in neighboring businesses. Know the occupations and interests of your fellow brethren (or those members in an applicable club, religious institution, etc). You will almost certainly be surprised to find that you have more in common with the people around you than you realize and there is a tremendous opportunity to help those around you and they will usually return the favor in kind. Plus, it is just nice (and comforting) to know the people around you.