In a more concerted effort to track how I spend my time, I’ve learned that I spend up to an hour each day “switchboarding.” When someone reaches out to ask for a connection, a reference, or a suggestion, I take it as a challenge to find the person, the place, the thing that best meets the need.
Someone needs an answer to a weird question that is not easily asked of even the Internet. An organization is looking for a Board member. One person is hoping to find someone with a specialized talent, luckily within a few days of when another person has expressed hope in finding placement with their niche skill. When I’m successful, it feels completely rad. When I’m not able to find a match, it helps me recognize who, what, or where I don’t know and need to learn more about. It’s like a treasure hunt that never ends!
As the legacies of Kevin Bacon and Lois Weisberg suggest, the size of one’s network is less important than the diversity of one’s network in making meaningful, otherwise-unlikely connections. This gives me some small hope! As so many others I’ve had the joy to meet, I have lived eras of my life that barely resemble one another (more on that in tomorrow’s post, a rerun from an earlier blog). What I lack in a cohesive narrative, I have had the good fortune to make up for in meeting fascinating people, learning their stories, and staying connected to them. My version of switchboarding, when it works out well, is my serendipitous repayment to a network that daily inspires me.
I don’t believe I can ever hope to be like Lois Weisberg, but her story of connecting and creating social conduits that live beyond her motivates me daily.
What I learned at life today: switchboarding takes daily upkeep and repays dividends in spotting deficits.
Featured image photo credit: University of Liverpool Faculty of Life & Science