For Mental Health Awareness Week this year the Mental Health Foundation are raising awareness about the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.
We reached out to Jeni Smith from successful networking business Netkno to explore the importance of building and maintaining a strong network around you, both personally and professionally. Thanks Jeni for your insight!
‘Connected yet lonely’ by Jeni Smith
Sitting on a sofa bed in my loft with a laptop on my knee tasked with launching a business whilst my 6-month-old daughter was downstairs with her Dad, and outside the world was spiralling due to a global pandemic, had to be one of the loneliest moments of my life.
I remember feeling really small. Insignificant. Helpless.
Becoming a new parent was an isolating experience in itself, as is starting a business, and of course social distancing and lockdowns – throw them all together and it created a perfect storm. Honestly though, and I know I’m bias on this but, my network are what got me through!
When I say network I don’t just mean the people I met at networking events, I mean everyone I know now and have ever known. Pulling in on their knowledge, leaning on their expertise, drawing from their strengths, it all adds up.
Having a strong personal network can mean make or break for our businesses, but it can also play a huge role in our emotional and mental health. There’s a fantastic book called Lost Connections by Johann Hari which explores the relationship between our emotional health and our connection to other humans.
In a world obsessed with the number of followers we have on social it’s important to look for real connections. In the same way having more followers on Instagram won’t make you feel less lonely, going to networking events and surrounding yourself with loads of people probably won’t either, but seeking out and building meaningful connections with a handful of people in your network will!
Be it via business events, voluntary work, socialising, mentoring, it all comes down to how we build relationships with others and the impact that can have on our personal wellbeing.
Being part of a community makes us feel safe, and when we feel save we allow ourselves to imagine and create and explore: try telling me that’s not going have a positive impact on you or your team?!
Building meaningful relationships with people you trust, both personally and professionally, can have a huge impact on your business, but more importantly it can have a huge impact on you. Because if you’re not okay, your business is never going to be okay.
No matter how lonely you might feel remember you have a network of people out there who’d jump at the chance to help – you just have to let them.
If you’re looking for networking events in the North East you can find them all in one place at www.netkno.co.uk/events