The value of networks, and how to invest in relationships that matter


The value of networks, and how to invest in relationships that matter. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

It is often stated that as we grow up, we need to not only build but also nurture friendships. However, beyond just the statement, we do not appreciate what is required to fully sustain our networks.

The other day I was having a discussion with a friend who had joined public service after several years in the private sector.

One of the things that came to his aid during the first few months was the friends she had made over the years.

In life, you need to separate friends from acquaintances. The latter are those that you are familiar with and occasionally engage on one or two issues.

However, the former are those that will stay with you through the years and that you have a shared worldview. It is not so much about the length of time you have engaged with these people.

It is more about the quality of your relationships. Some may be those you grow up with from childhood, others former schoolmates while more are those we meet in our social and professional circles.

I was once told that you may not need too many genuine friends. One should imagine their burial ceremony and ask who their pallbearers will be.

If you can identify, without any difficulty, those people who can carry your casket and act as pallbearers the day you are gone from the earth then you are good to go.

Your next task must be to invest in those people so that you can deepen your networks and consequently your net worth.

As one ages, it becomes clear that it is not the amount of resources that will make one have a quality life, but the true relationships that one has cultivated.

This requires doing practical things every day. Be available for your friends.

Check on them frequently. Make a habit of sharing phone or physical conversations every few months. You do not have to discuss anything in particular.

However, such catch-up sessions enable you to maintain a connection and thus deepen your relationship.

Secondly set aside time to share in your friends' key milestones in life, be they happy occasions or periods of adversity.

For parents, it is important that we teach our children about the importance of identifying and creating friendships that last from a young age.

In the modern age of technology, it is very easy to be a loner or to have superficial relationships.

The danger with this approach only becomes evident later in life when one realises that your social capital, just like material wealth is built over years through hard work and daily investment.

It is therefore important that children learn from a young age that collaboration, networking and genuineness are values that will help ensure that they have a fruitful life.

As children are in half-time this period, let us help them to recognise the true value of networks.