I realize how fragile my network has become now that we are all physically distant. One of my strengths is connecting with people and people to each other. I love it, I am energized by it. I primarily only network at my community level. In-person interactions always seemed necessary to network properly, and the in-person nature of it fueled me. Now that I've had some distance from the process, I realize it's only half true.
Influence comes when you shift being a consumer into being a producer.
I produce content, relationships, speeches, volunteer efforts, economic impact... in my own community. Through being a quality contributor to my community, influence has grown. I often get calls from community leaders about where to go for a problem, what they need to be doing to attract businesses like mine, or how to grow their own brand. This isn't some weird flex - this is to prove that the more I've contributed, the more people trust in my person, character, and can rely on my input.
I have had a handful of conversations with people who see me all over town and find me involved in many initiatives. They inquire how I get connected with so many people. The answer has been simple - I've produced. I get out there and make things and connect with people and help foster relationships.
Then Corona hits, and I realize how fragile that ecosystem really is. I can't be in front of people anymore. I can't help others like I used to. I've realized that I consume in most communities outside my physical geography. Each of my interests has a community. I sit on the sidelines and am entertained, but offer very little in return.
Programming, cooking, leadership, real estate, business - if it doesn't happen in the 30165 zip code, I'm likely not a part of it. I'm challenging myself to change that. I want to use the technology and marketing I tout every day to grow and help my network beyond my zip code. I want to help people no matter where they're located. Selfishly I want to grow as a person, I want my business to grow, and I want to find new friends who will be part of the future chapters in life. Unselfishly, I hope to learn how to help people in a whole new way and create interactions that will impact your life.
How wonderful would it be to wake up one day and realize you can live anywhere and have a network that will go with you? That's what is challenging me right now. I want to grow my business and relationships to an economy greater in numbers than the city in which I live. If another wave of Corona hits, I want to realize my relationships aren't suffering because I already have a system in place for staying connected with everyone.