“Networking” – Vital for Our Children and Families
We continue to learn and communicate what we understand for the sake of our own, our family’s, and our friends’ general welfare, safety, comfort, and overall happiness. How do those initiatives flow with what we term “networking”? The Encarta Dictionary defines “networking” as “the process or practice of building up or maintaining relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages…” Purposeful fact-finding and informative sharing are the hallmarks of effective networking.
In recent years, research and innovative practices have led to welcomed improvements to the quality of life of children whose needs and desires exceed readily available, traditional services. Families and professionals in education and medicine have learned and appreciated the importance of relationship-building among relatives, friends, other parents, teachers, physicians, organizations, etc. Such “networking” has proven as powerful as it has critical in providing the best nurturing and goal-based progress for our children with special differences.
Beloved Helen Keller expressed it best with her statement: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Famed author and entrepreneur of effective, organizational theory and practice, Steven Covey, declares that successful networking occurs as individuals set, track, and achieve personal goals.
Networking involves “belonging” to communities that offer care, concern, and trusted knowledge and advice. The communities can be accessed and enjoyed physically, in your neck-of-the-woods, or “virtually,” via the Internet. Such communities can act to resolve feelings of loneliness or isolation that unfortunately may slip into our minds from time to time. “Belonging” includes a sense of responsibility for others that encourages us to act, serve, share, provide, and lend others helping ideas and/or contact information. In this day and age, it is the wide networking of associated communities that provides affiliations, contributions to what we know, and vast lists of knowledgeable resources, as well as comments, recommendations, and words of wisdom posted on web-based blogs.
Successful networking involves both sharing, as well as receiving. Through our networks, we seek and promote information that furthers our accumulated, factual knowledge by, for example, communicating or sharing as a single, informed source; serving on committees that, as an informed team, discuss current issues and seek the means to fulfill expressed needs; and/or meeting with like-minded friends or colleagues who brainstorm purposefully to strategize solutions to inequities experienced by children and their families locally or regionally.
It was author Robert Finch who wrote that “true belonging is born of relationships not only to one another, but to a place of shared responsibilities and benefits. We love not so much what we have acquired, as what we have made and whom we have made it with.” Networking is the vehicle by which we can achieve the most for our children and families, and favorably impact the lives of so many others.
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