Intro from Alana:
There are certain people in our lives who have been our friends forever… it is simply impossible to recall how or when we connected… they have simply always been there. For me, one of those people is Neil Israel. Neil is an Operational Excellence evangelist and entrepreneur, currently living in Dallas, Texas. He serves as Co-Founder and COO of Next Level Performance, an education and consulting company. Neil works cross-functionally to solve problems and improve organizational performance. He integrates networking into his daily routine, including managing Next Level Performance’s four LinkedIn Discussion Groups and developing new relationships with people who occupy common ground.
Neil grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, and was an active member of several strong communities. In fact, Neil outpaced my 10 years at Sprint Corporation with 18 years of his own in a variety of Program/Project Management roles. After moving to Dallas, Neil served as Director of Learning & Development for the nonprofit organization, Transformance. Beginning in August 2017, Neil shifted his attention to focus fully on Next Level Performance.
Neil and his wife Suzie enjoy spending time at home and attending networking and social events. You can find out more about Neil and his growing business at www.nextlevelperformance.us.
“We Take Care of Our Own” by Bruce Springsteen. Guest Post by Neil Israel.
“…Wherever this flag’s flown
We Take Care of Our Own.”
A scene from a recent mixer at an upscale bar in Frisco, Texas:
Johnny walks into a room full of sharply dressed strangers, all drinking alcohol and seemingly captivated in conversations that do not need additional participants. Does he:
- Run for the door, and never return to the establishment again;
- Find a dark corner where no one can see him, and hide for 90 lonely minutes;
- Hide for 45 minutes and then run for the door; or
- Stay for the duration and strategically seek out opportunities to add value to conversations?
The answer for our purposes is, of course, D. But, why do newbies, who have not studied great books on the absolute necessity of networking (Like Coffee Lunch Coffee) stay?
Beyond simply meeting their next boss or impressing their current one, people actively network because they seek out a community. Communities can and do police their members, but they also provide a vehicle for mentoring, a shared sense of pride and most importantly a trusted, comfortable environment. In the digital age, networking communities can be physical or virtual. A perfect example is LinkedIn Discussion Groups. These selective online communities require acceptance by a group owner and can allow multiple conversations to occur simultaneously.
The desire to seek out communities is basic to our human psychology. Going all the way back to Maslow’s hierarchy, we are social beings that crave safety. It seems to me that networking serves both of these needs as well as self-actualization and esteem. Accomplished networkers feel good about helping newer networkers—or networkers having to start over for one reason or another.
The largest beneficiary of the communities that arise from networking is not the individuals, but rather the societies or businesses that house the communities. In The Speed of Trust (2008), Stephen M.R. Covey writes that the financial value that trust brings to (or the lack of it drains from) a business relationship is a calculable economic value. If two individuals become well acquainted through networking events, they develop a friendship. From this friendship, trust arises. When working together in a business setting, their ability to communicate will benefit all parties involved. Better products and services are delivered more quickly because of the underlying trust that allows for it.
Networking can provide you with the safety that allows you to grow personally and professionally. In other words—from the voice of the “Boss” Bruce Springsteen, “We take care of our own…” (In “Wrecking Ball,” 2012).