Be a Social ‘Us’ Monkey

I had a weird scenario play out this week that befuddled my brain.

I’ve been mowing my lawn with a mower that is perilously close to death. It sputters and quits. If I let it rest it will give a valiant effort and finish the job. One of my neighbours is a mechanic and has been out working in his yard while I’ve struggled.

He didn’t offer to help.

At first, I was a little ticked off because my neighbour often helped out my brother when he was living here. I expected a continuation of ‘neighbourliness’. I was disappointed. A few days later my neighbour was out in his yard again when I sold my brother’s old truck. We talked a few minutes about the sale.

The next time I started to mow my lawn, that same neighbour came over to offer me one of his spare lawnmowers. He even checked to make sure it would work for me since it hadn’t been used in a while.

Let’s just say I was very confused.

I was telling this story to a friend and she said the explanation was simple.

I wasn’t an ‘us’ monkey.

Yeah – I gave her that look too.

Apparently, monkeys function in groups. They look after each other and ignore the other groups. Outsider monkeys who want to join the group or just be allowed to interact have to be the ones to make the social contact. Close proximity just isn’t enough.

Back to my neighbour, even though there was a friendly relationship between my brother/housemate, it didn’t extend to me just because we were neighbours.

How this translates into business.

We’re all cliquey, whether we intend to be or not. We are creatures of habit and few of us like to step too far outside of our comfort zone.

Ever notice when you attend a networking event, most of us gravitate toward the people we know rather than initiate a conversation with new people (there are some who do, but honestly the thought makes me break out in hives).

It’s time to break out and buck the trend. Still be an ‘us’ monkey and protect the network you already have in place. But be a social ‘us’ monkey and interact with the ‘them’ monkeys to build your network even larger.

Caution:

These relationships aren’t inheritable. As with my neighbour, I had to initiate the conversation even though my brother already had a well-established line of communication.

Even though your company or predecessor had an established relationship, don’t assume you’re entitled to the same privilege. As the newcomer, it’s up to you to establish your own connection.

Benefit:

Relationships you build and maintain stay with you no matter whether you switch jobs, earn a promotion or strike out on your own.

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