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The Power of Connection & Collaboration

I remember in the 80s there was a quiz show aimed at sixth formers called ‘Blockbusters’ (I’ll have a P please Bob). It was so popular that it had its own dance! The quiz show wanted to prove or disprove the adage ‘two heads are better than one’ - so one team had two players (blue) and the other team had a solo player (white).

I don’t know if it proved the adage or not but I am firm believer in proverbs like  “Iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another” or “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”.

Maybe it’s because I am twin or grew up playing team sports but I think something magical happens when people come together.

Don’t misunderstand me. I know that:

  1. There are some people who prefer their own company

  2. Some people are introverted and “get their energy by being alone" (Carol Stewart, author of Quietly Visible); and

  3. We all need to be strong enough to stand alone when necessary.  

I’m talking about our need to connect.

Did you know that according the Government’s Community Life Survey, 6% of respondents (approximately 3 million people in England) said they feel lonely often or always?

In a study by Glassdoor, nearly 60% of employees with less than five years of work experience feel lonely all or most of the time. The survey of 2,000 employees found that the figure drops to just under 50% for those with 6-10 years of experience.  

As humans we yearn to bond, to interact with others, to find our tribe. That need becomes even more pressing when we feel vulnerable or unsafe. 

As a new leader of a network, I can recall how alone and out of kilter I felt. The concept of a staff network was alien to me and I always felt like I was messing things up. There I was a black woman leading a network on race equality in an organisation not quite ready to hear what we had to say. #Awkard!  I felt unsure of myself and unable to find anyone who could relate to the challenges I faced as middle manager leading a black network…UNTIL I was invited to a conference. It was a conference for people leading race networks). I walked into the conference room and my mouth dropped (cue chorus of angels). Dozens of black men and women talking about their networks and the internal challenges they faced. I plugged in, made notes, swapped ideas, exchanged emails and left feeling energized, focused, inspired and connected to something bigger.

A few years later, I remember being a guest speaker at an event and a delegate (vice chair of a network) bravely stood up and said: “the staff network saved my life”. They explained that they felt trapped, isolated, gaslighted and was on the verge of giving up…on life. Then by chance they had a chat with a network chair who reminded them that they aren’t alone and invited them to a network meeting.

Staff Networks reduces isolation, supports employees from marginalized groups, encourages people to find their voice and provides a space of belonging…and so much more. 

This month, I celebrate nine years of the publishing of my book: The Incredible Power of Staff Networks.  I wrote this book because I found my tribe when I got involved in staff network.

I found my voice and reignited my confidence.  I saw what happened when a group of committed people came together to bring about change to make work better. I had to capture that. I cannot tell you how many copies have been sold, or whether it’s a best seller or what ranking it has. That’s never been the priority. My sole purpose for the book is to help network leaders be the best they can be and to remind them they aren’t alone.

In 2024, I want staff networks and resource groups to connect and collaborate and that is why I encourage all networks to join us on Wednesday 8th May for the National Networks Conference taking place on Networks Day.

It’s going to be fantastic.

Come with your tribe and let’s connect. Let’s share best practices, let’s encourage each other and let’s remind ourselves and the world of the power of staff networks!


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