Friday, July 9, 2010

The Power of Networking

“There is a power and unity and strength in networking. I think networking is always relevant. And I think it is particularly relevant for Blacks because of our feeling of isolation.” ~ Alvin Pouissant, M.D. (Success Runs in Our Race, 2004, p. 60 by George Fraser)

Years ago, women had their quilting bees and sewing circles in order to form communities of support. This was the old way we networked. Somewhere along the line, though, women lost those connections. All types of problems from alcoholism to substance abuse to broken lives replaced the old quilting bees. However, given the rise of the Internet, networking has taken on a renewed surge of energy.

Traditionally, networking has helped many people of color make business contacts, develop relationships and meet their professional goals. Now, networking is more important than ever. With our present economy, networking can help your business survive and thrive.

Can you join a group which supports your passion? Or even join a women’s or men's group or a book club?

One Sunday I went to a book signing at Milligan Books ( where I found out about the Red Hat Society, which is a national organization ( for women. This chapter, founded by Ruthie Hopkins (co-publisher of Pasadena Journal with her husband, Attorney Joe Hopkins) of, hails from Pasadena. The women sported red hats and purple outfits and they came in and modeled for those present at the book signing. As a group, they were on their way to a play.

The prerequisite to joining the group was that the women had to be over fifty. The reason they wear purple and red is because after fifty you don’t care what people think. They say that the younger women can join the group, but those that join wear lavender and pink.

Anyhow, the women looked so excited as they modeled their outfits. What I saw in each eye was a gleam of satisfaction, a look of triumph—a stride that said that they had arrived. Childbirth, child rearing and sometimes marriages were behind them. Now they could deal with life on their own terms. And most of all, they were networking.

Networking is very important to building a business or helping you reach your dreams.

Personally, as a writer, I’ve been in a writer’s group since 1992. I also participate in Black Writers on Tour, Recycling Black Dollars, and many online communities such as Black Now I'm a member in a multi-racial group, the Greater Los Angeles Writers' Society (GLAWS) as well.

As a race of people, we have always used networking. This is that special something which has helped get around the Old Boy System during Jim Crow, and even up to this day. Just look back at the Black Church, the Masons, the fraternities, the sororities, the NAACP, and other groups and see how they broke down the doors of separatism.

Now with the Internet, we have the power of global social networking groups we can join such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Ning groups, Black Planet, and others. We are all stronger when we unite.

"I am because We are, and since We are, therefore, I am." ~ John Mbuti

By Dr. Maxine Thompson
Author of Hostage of Lies
Voted a Best Book of 2009

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