Networking and conversing remain timeless

As a 12-year-old boy I went to my grandfather’s funeral, and it seemed like it was as big an affair as a head of a state being laid to rest.

At that age everything seems big. I remembered how granddad died on a Friday, and the funeral service was the following Monday. A large contingency of extended family from Nebraska attended.

Years later I asked my dad,” Who were all those relatives?” Dad didn’t know and told me to ask my grandmother. Her response was the same as dad’s, but she remembered their attendance.

How was it they knew in the world before the internet and modern technology that my grandfather had died on a Friday, and they knew to be in Wakefield, Kansas, by Monday morning? The prime source was daily newspapers, but by the time the obituary was written and sent to papers, which would have been local and regional, it wouldn’t have appeared until the weekend.

I learned over time other friends had similar stories.

One-on-one conversation

As much as we talk about networking, we often overlook the opportunities that a one-on-one conversation can create.

Upon reflection, the reason why people responded to my grandfather’s funeral so many years ago was because it was important to them to be there. Those relationships were built and forged over many years based on an understanding that even extended families are important.

It was difficult for people of that era to leave their farm operation for one day to travel many miles to a small community in Kansas. In the third week of September, those farm families came to pay their respects, and they did so knowing that they had to find neighbors to take over the chores of feeding livestock, planting wheat or picking corn.

The need to build personal networks in a more complex world can add to our own opportunities. Rather than depending so much on social media posts, perhaps it is time to think like those who traveled many miles on short notice.

Relationships endure

Relationships matter through good and bad times. A friend of mine told me as a western Kansas resident, he cannot make most funerals, but he tries to reach out and have a meaningful telephone conversation with a surviving family member.

My guess is that “old school” thinking is not so complex and makes sense. I have a hunch that many years ago that’s how relatives from another state knew about my grandfather’s passing and responded.

We can all learn from the past, and, while there is nothing wrong with social media and emails because they are an important way of conveying meaningful information, those should not take the place of the personal touch.

Networking is at its best when conversations are real and matter.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].