Patrick Long on Benefits of Networking and Interpersonal Connections

Patrick P. Long, Author in St. Louis

After losing my wife to cancer last year and finding myself left alone to raise our four young children, I had to write a book, “Ordinarily Extraordinary.” Writing my book was a solitary, isolated endeavor. It required long hours alone focused on text and a keyboard with my only encounters being with my thoughts and feelings. Most interactions with others were counter-productive, diversions, and distractions from the mission.

Publishing my book has been an entirely different experience, in which interactions with people transformed from a nuisance to a necessity. Once I moved into the publishing stage, I got worried if I wasn’t connecting directly with others frequently.

As a self-published author, the transition from writing the book to publishing transformed me from an author, who considers himself an artist, to an entrepreneur. It requires me to act as a business person, marketing agent, publicist, salesman, and more. My appreciation for the value of networking has also increased, but I’ve also seen the human side of it along with the business and commercial aspects.

The objectives and motivations are hard to define. Is it a matter of selfish promotion, in which the focus is always on “what’s in it for me,” or is it a matter of meaningful connections with other human beings? I won’t keep you in suspense. I’ll go ahead and share what I’ve learned.  It’s both.

I couldn’t just write a book and expect it to sell virally. One reader doesn’t read it and then magically gets 500 more readers to buy the book. Word of mouth helps, but it is far more limited than I realized.   After getting dozens of great reviews and even more tremendous reader feedback, sales didn’t just materialize. Just when it seemed like momentum was building upon itself, the swells would dissipate into intermittent lulls.

In my efforts, I found it is wonderful to do for others sometimes even if it doesn’t provide any immediate benefit for me. At times, I’ve come to enjoy helping others without asking, “what’s in it for me.” I don’t advocate foolishness, and sometimes it is hard to draw the line between generosity and imprudence. Yet, I recently enjoyed watching a connection of mine be a guest on a podcast that I had connected him with, and it was a connection that has provided no material return for me.

I’ve found that the happier and the better I feel about my life, it enhances and improves not just my personal life but also my business interactions and dealings. The final answer isn’t simple. Life and relationships are too complicated.  You can’t merely define if I am or am not doing something selfishly or selflessly. It is always a combination of both, just in varying degrees of each. That’s the reality of it.

I’ve learned to ask people what I can do for them rather than ask them what they can do for me, and sometimes surprise them by doing more. My book and my experiences have shown me the value of community and networking. After losing my wife to cancer and finding myself left alone to raise our four young children, I have been on the receiving end of compassion and generosity. It has taught me the value of our connections with one another – even in the little things.  I discovered I hadn’t been left alone.