Recently I was reading a post online about tips for building resilience and the number one tip was to "Build up a strong social network." And that got me thinking what is a strong social network?
"A social network refers to a defined set of social actors – which may include individuals, organizations, or other entities – and the social relationships that connect them to each other in a larger structure" (Wasserman & Faust, 1994).
In a review online I found a definition that suggested a strong social network provides social support. "Social support can be looked at like a protective net that catches and holds the person in need allowing the individual a safe place to heal or cope." -Bevan & Sole (2014).
But how do you build one intentionally? Thinking on how those around me have done this I came up with the following list. What would you add or subtract from it?
Be an active listener - give the people you are speaking with your full attention
Ask good questions; a good question helps the person being questioned reflect on and shift their thinking on a challenge or situation.
Be yourself and let them be their self without judgement (e.g. If you don't agree with the person then respectfully disagree and acknowledge that they have a right to their opinion.)
Proactively invest time in your network, always be connecting and keeping in touch. The time you need your network to support you is NOT the time to be building your network.
Focus on quality over quantity
Try to give more than you get. Generosity not only builds good will for the recipient, giving floods the brain with oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin, three chemicals linked to happiness, well being and human to human bonding.
You'll notice in the above list the second bullet point is to ask good questions.
What are your go to suggestions for how to build a strong social network? and when you answer (modelling the last point above), I'll be practicing the first bullet point.