Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

As a business major during my undergrad years, I had my fair share of networking events. I even attended classes that taught business etiquette while networking. What’s the proper approach? How do you strike up conversation? What side of your shirt should you wear your nametag? No matter what industry you find yourself in, networking is very important. Why? Because the basic idea of networking is to build relationships that may lead to impactful opportunities and personal connections along the road.

In the early stages of my career, I didn’t see networking as something for others, I saw it as something for myself. For a while, I had a “how-can-you-help-me” approach to networking. Through experience, however, I found that networking should not be a “me-focused” endeavor, but should be about the other person that you are connecting with. Ultimately, it’s about building relationships, and no one likes being in a one-sided relationship. In order for a true relationship to be built, there needs to be a degree of reciprocity.

The shift in my mindset really took place several years ago, when I was working in a community outreach position for a church. The idea was to help the church connect to the community and allow the community to connect with the local church. This meant that a bulk of my duties included creating opportunities for the church to serve in the community and finding community resources that we could bring into the church to help the congregation as well.  Needless to say, I was out in the community quite frequently attending community fairs, advisory councils, CAPS district meetings, and block parties. Wherever you go, you can find a need that people have. Their need could involve employment, civic affairs, education, housing, or another aspect of their lives.

There are nonprofits, social services and government agencies that help fund in specific needs, but if we are honest we can’t meet all the needs of the community with just one organization. We could try, but odds are, the more we broaden our scope the less effective we might become in what we truly do well. From these experiences I really came to grasp the importance of taking the “how-can-I-help-you” approach to networking. This shift from a “me” to a “we” approach, is necessary for healthy collaboration. I believe that in order to truly make an impact in our neighborhoods, communities, cities, and world, we must replace isolated attempts for change with collaborative efforts.

I have followed Dale Patridge for a few years now. In his book, People Over Profit, he makes the point of focusing on helping people rather than focusing on just  profit. In other words, if you were to shift your mind-frame to, “how can I help one million people” instead of “how can I make million dollars,” you will most likely become successful because you a focusing on helping others (the consumers). As I transitioned into a new position at Family Bridges, I was tasked with helping to expand the organization into Phoenix. At the time we didn’t know many people there, nor did anyone know about us. So we did a lot of meeting and greeting, story-telling and selling, all by networking in the community with the mindset “how can we help?”

Looking to add value to others and cultivating relationships is the key to collaboration. This begins with a “we” approach to networking. So whether it’s networking for B2B or B2C, what mindset are you approaching others with? What are some ways that you could add value to those who you come in contact with? I truly believe that when people see that you are not just in it for yourself, but rather are eager  to help and put others first, walls can come down, opportunities to collaborate can arise, and you might have some wonderful opportunities to great things that impact the world around you.

For blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Bridging Division

Bridging Division

Contributed by
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

As we are swept by the wave of the election outcome, many of us are getting hammered on social media by the emotion of the moment.  One group (half the nation) is elated at the outcome, feeling confident and optimistic, and the second group (the other half of the nation) is in tears, fearful of the future.  As this political season has carried a very high emotional tone, many of us may have created an emotional attachment to a candidate or to a set of beliefs held by a party.  Hence, the loss for some is very real while the possibilities for others is energizing.  We had a similar collective experience not too long ago with the Cubs victory.  While we passionately rallied around one team, another group did so for the opposing team as well. Obviously, a baseball game is not equal to the policy implications that come with a presidential election, but the experience of a collective emotional experience is similar.  With wins and losses, there are a ton of assumptions being made.  These assumptions are based on the stories that either we make up from our own experiences or that we pick up from others.  The assumptions made are like a script that we internalize and which further deepen the way we feel about the outcome.

Last night we watched the aftershock as many took to the streets in shouts of protest or took to social media pouring out initial reactions and disbelief.  The shock and denial was very akin to the stages of grief that many people suffer through when they experience a loss. It’s just that in this experience it has been magnified as it is a crash of tears and cheers by a divided nation.

The question for us is, “what are the personal results of this event?”  Some people have begun to de-friend their friends on Facebook that hold opposing views, further narrowing their worldview, others may even feel paralyzed due to fear, and others have taken up a hate chant.

Like a marriage in conflict, our country is struggling through a diversity of opinions and feelings that can easily divide. I would encourage each one of us to step out of our comfort zones and to reach out and listen to people who hold opposing views and the reasons behind it.  Just like we tell couples in Family Bridges’ workshops, listening does not mean agreeing. You don’t have to agree with the policies of one group but you can always listen to why they hold their beliefs and why they feel the way they do given the outcome. How are they experiencing this outcome and why?  Hold your feelings and ideas in suspense for a moment and listen to the story of another. By doing this, we can enrich our world and understand the fears and hopes of “the other side.”

For more blogs, tips and articles on relationships, follow us on social media as @familybridges.

Don’t Let Summer Happen To You!

Don’t Let Summer Happen To You!

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

If you are like me, you must be panicking as the 70 days of summer vacation approach. The summer is supposed to be nine weeks of blissful family togetherness but for us working parents summer is mostly a financial and logistical nightmare. The school system assumes that all households have a parent waiting for their kids at home. It doesn’t take into account the reality that many children will have countless hours of unsupervised television or video game binges.

Most kids lose math skills over the summer, and according to the New York Times they don’t gain them back the first week of school as many of us assume. This puts them three years behind their higher income peers by the end of fifth grade. So our first order of business this summer is to prepare for our kid’s continuing education. I ordered my son the pre-algebra curriculum from Inspiron. This will account for 30 minutes of his day and 30 more minutes will be spent in required reading. He can read more if he wants to but he has to do a minimum of 30 minutes. I encourage you to go to the library, or if your budget allows it head straight to Your children will complain about how unfair it is to do school work in the summer, but trust me, they have 24 hours in the day, it is not unreasonable to expect them to spend one of those hours sharpening up their math and reading skills.

Summer is a great time to teach our children how to do chores consistently. The biggest complaint the work force has about the new generation is their entitlement attitude. Let’s not forget we raised those entitled children. We can reverse entitlement in our own homes when we teach our children to be self-sufficient. I’m not suggesting here that we send them to labor camps. I’m simply stressing the importance of chores. Our children should be able to pick up their rooms, make their beds, start a load of laundry and switch clothes to the drier, take out garbage, wipe off counters and sinks, and maybe even run the hand vacuum. When they get up in the morning, leave them a list of things you want them to do. Don’t forget to teach them how to do them first! They will never be able to keep the house as clean as you keep it but at least they will know what to do when their laundry basket is overflowing or when they run out of towels.

Those little bodies need to move and exercise. Camps in the YMCA are awesome but we can’t all afford the $200 a week. So be sure to have a hula hoop, jump rope, and perhaps a Bosu ball lying around the house. I even let my kids ride their rollerblades inside the house when it’s too humid outside or I am not available to go out with them (mind you I live in a one story house and have no stairs). If you have staircases have your children chart all the times they use those stairs and give them brownie points. These points can be added up for special treats during the weekend.

No summer should be complete without community service. I know some of us are too busy to volunteer at the local elderly home but we can teach our summer vacationers to think of the needs of others by doing simple things like unloading the groceries for an elderly neighbor, volunteering to walk a neighbor’s dog, offer to pull weeds for the pregnant lady that lives next door, or teach a younger kid how to play ball.

If you work from home like I do or leave your kids with grandma while you go to work and don’t want your kids lingering in front of the video games for hours on end, be sure to leave building toys like Legos, puzzles, and painting supplies on the table. If it’s hidden they won’t go looking for it. The card games and table fun must be visible!!!

Check the VBS calendar from your local churches and enroll them in one. It’s usually a fun week of crafts, games, friends, snacks and Bible lessons that you don’t have to pay for! The community calendar can also be helpful.

Julie Kashen, the policy director for the group Make it Work explains that “summer is the moment that really epitomizes the child care crisis.” It is a crisis alright but you don’t need to panic. If you can’t find a nice camp that won’t cost an arm and a leg you should make a plan and charge forth courageously!

Here are some tips:

  1. Get together with other working parents in your same position and build a support system where you all can take turns checking up on the children, taking them to the park, exchanging puzzles and toys or sharing ideas.
  2. Be sure that all adults in your children’s lives during this time are trusted adults.
  3. Give the children a small notebook with some stickers. They can place a sticker in their book every time they complete a task. Or,
  4. Keep a white board visible and give each child a brownie points for everything they complete. At the then end of the week you can do something special depending on the amount of points they accumulated. The more points the better the reward.  Here are some examples:
    • For books read or drawings or daily reading (15 points)
    • For chores completed (15 points)
    • For doing extra things without being asked (5 points)
    • For completing math assignments (15 points)
    • For going up and down stairs (one point for every time they do it)
    • For learning how to hula hoop (50 points)
  5. Go to the library and check out some age appropriate books. Ask the children to draw pictures of their daily reading and give them brownie points for each drawing.
  6. Give the children brownie points every time they go up and down the stairs (it’s good exercise)
  7. Keep a board with a list of chores you want them to complete for the day and have them put a sticker next to the chores they complete.
  8. For really big jobs like pulling weeds or cleaning the windows, pay children a modest amount of money. I have twelve windows so I pay my kids $1.00 per window. They get to play with water and soap while getting an important job done.
  9. Keep a summer feeling chart. Ask the kids at the end of the day how they felt that day and log it on the calendar. You can order your feeling stickers and cards from our Family Bridges website.
  10. Teach the children how to play monopoly or other table games. They are fun, cerebral, and a good use of summer hours.