Do you have a healthy “vital network” that serves you well? Becky Robinson’s blog post at Weaving Influence really struck a chord with me when I read it today – and it prompted this post.

I define one’s “vital network” as an association of individuals with a common interest who provide mutual support, clarity, and assistance. A group like this can become a proactive support system, far beyond casual workmates and acquaintances. Your vital network is a community of compatriots who keep you on course, serve as “truth tellers,” and surround you with positive energy.

Building Your Vital Network

Creating your vital network begins with an evaluation of who in your broader network of co-workers, friends, and family fits your criteria for “vitalness.” Here are my criteria (yours might be different):

  • Values-alignment – Potential vital network members share your values and demonstrate aligned valued behaviors. There are few if any situations where you wonder “What the heck were they thinking when they did ‘X’?” with these folks.
  • Mentorship – They have life experiences that they share willingly when asked. You trust their perspective because you’ve seen them successfully negotiate a variety of human circumstances.
  • Demonstrated Caring – “Vital network”-worthy players go out of their way to check in, unprompted. They reach out with a thought or article of interest, or a query about your well-being.

My lovely bride (of nearly 32 years), Diane, is my most important vital network member. Nearly everything I consider enjoys Diane’s insights.

In my journey towards greater effectiveness in the social media space, I have found fabulous “vital network” members from outside my established circles. Becky Robinson responded to my request to “pick her brain” about how to gain traction with followers & listeners in this space – she has become a wonderful friend. Kevin Eikenberry helped open the door to a fun project and has provided fabulous insights from his experience.

I stumbled upon Lolly Daskal‘s vibrant LeadFromWithin tweet chat and community on Twitter (it recently expanded to Facebook). She welcomed me with open arms as a valued colleague. Lolly is a confidant and vital friend.

Dan Rockwell has shared his expertise with humor & focus, a unique combination! Blanchard colleagues David Witt and Jesse Lyn Stoner offer support & clarity as I continue learning to expand my influence in this space.

Others who have given freely of their knowledge include Wally Bock, Patti Blackstaffe, and Mike Henry, Sr. They have “invited me in” and I’m much smarter for their gifts!

Serve the Members of Your Vital Network

I’ve spoken here about how much I’ve learned from my vital network members. Yet the network only serves me so long as I am willing to invest time, energy, and heart to serve members of my vital network. I don’t yet feel that I have “balanced the scale” with some of these wonderful people, but I’m working on it – by reaching out, connecting, offering support, and being present when they ask for help.

What’s the Condition of your Vital Network?

There is no time like the present to examine your vital network. Does your vital network include the kind of peers and experts that you will benefit most from? Are you serving as well as receiving?

What are you waiting for? There are fabulous partners just beyond your reach – stand, open up, invite conversations. You’ll be glad you did.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Chris, thanks for mentioning me in this great list of folks! There is a wonderful community of people who are connecting through the Internet and Social Media. Glad to know you!

    Mike…

  2. Great post, Chris.

    I’m just beginning this process. Making connections and learning how I can contribute to those I connect with. It does take some effort, thought, and awareness, but it is worth it. I met you through Lolly Daskall’s Lead from Within Twitter chat. Didn’t know about the Facebook group until I read your post. Gonna have to go there and join up.

    Gonna check out some of the other people you point out in your post. Sounds like they’d all be good people to know.

    Any way you’re right. Building and maintaining a vital network is, well…er, vital. 🙂

    Thanks for reminding me of that. I appreciate you.

  3. Chris,

    Learning from you is a privilege and joy. I love what you do. It’s an honor to be mentioned in your “vital network.” As you know, you are in mine.

    I’ve found that finding shared values creates powerful connections.

    Keep up the great work.

    Best,

    Dan

  4. Chris,
    Years ago, I learned about a principle called the “master mind group.” That term sounds far out compared to a vital network, but the two share some similarities in principle. The master mind principle calls for an individual to assemble a group of “supporters” and meet on a regular basis. The simple premise of a master mind group is that other people can usually believe in you with more intensity and enthusiasm than you can believe in yourself. The individual assembling a master mind group takes a set of well-defined goals before the group and the group encourages and supports that individual in their pursuit of the goals. In return, every member supports the others. If the group perseveres and remains intact, the goals of all the members are soon realized.