Too many people believe, and are told, that "networking" will play a critical role in their success. But meeting volumes of people and exchanging business cards at anonymous events may only provide limited benefits to sellers of mass products. If you are like me, and like the very smart people I work with, you are probably not a "mass product". Which means you need to be obsessively vigilant and discerning about the time you invest in high quality relationships.
If asked to think of a network, most of us will picture some version of a cell phone network: lots of connections, themselves connected to lots of hubs and connections.
This broad connectedness can be wonderful for certain purposes, like providing exposure on LinkedIn for someone looking for a new job for example. But deep professional and personal growth only happens in intimate settings with people who are at some level part of our "tribe". These "tribe members" may not always look like us, dress like us, or even work in our field. Sometimes we may only know them through their writing. And yet, there is a conscious and unconscious "fit" there.
With a little luck, we eventually figure out is that expanding time and energy with "our people" is where growth happens. Sure, it's important to be curious and explore beyond our limited circles - too small of a circle with people who are too similar and there is no journey to be had. And of course, the composition of our tribe will evolve as we evolve. Some people will only "ride with us" for a while, some we may want to "ride with" for a longer time.
To quote Dr. Seuss in "Oh, The Places You'll Go!", our tribe is wherever our own "Boom Bands are playing" the type of music that speaks to us.
But we will only hear this music if we reduce the noise.