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In case you were wondering what me learning to pickle things and starting a non-profit has to do with anyone’s sobriety (including my own), let me answer in today’s blog.

The best byproduct, hands down, of living a sober life in Alcoholics (or Narcotics) Anonymous, is your network.  Yeah baby…I’m talking about your personal people.  We are a group that wouldn’t ordinarily mix.  In a single meeting you  might find a rock star sitting next to an attorney sitting next to a make-up artist sitting next to a street person.  No matter what you do in your sobriety, or what you hope to do, there is always going to be someone who has traveled your path, and I promise you that someone will always be there to help you!  This has ALWAYS been true for me since the day I walked into A.A.  It’s particularly important during difficult times when your little alcoholic brain might tell you that your father dying is the perfect excuse to drink or that since you gained 10 pounds over the holidays you should probably start popping those high-power diet pills that keep you up ALL night!

But networking isn’t for amateurs.  7 skills on THIS blog, THIS week! Check it out as I take top tips for making connections and turn A.A. on them! And you need them…because your network is a huge part of keeping you sober.

1. Ask Questions

Uh, yeah.  That’s what people do when they are acting human and interested in others.  Ok, it seems kind of common sense to me now (at 11 years and counting) but there was a time when I only attended meetings in the dark and sat in the back of the room with my arms folded across my chest just daring you to talk to me. Then I evolved (read: I stayed sober.) I finally went to meetings that were more well-lit and some in daylight.  I still stickered my Big Book from cover to cover and parked down the street, but it’s progress right?

So I had been around for a little while, and started to get pretty darn LONELY (see my theories about alcoholic loneliness.)  See, I had no friends, right? This probably had a lot to do with the ice-cold stare I gave you if you happened to come my direction. You didn’t know it, but that was my,’ talk to me, I’m lonely look.’  I can see how it might confuse you.  My sponsor at the time told me I should pick one person at every meeting and introduce myself to them and give them my phone number. I can still remember asking her with a dead straight face…why would I do that? It’s not like I want a bunch of people calling me. I can only imagine what she thought.

I kind of whined and bitched and complained around this direction for a long time.

  • I can’t.
  • I don’t want to.
  • It doesn’t feel right.
  • I don’t have anything in common with them.
  • All the women are pretty and successful and smart.
  • All the women are snobby and stuck up and think they’re better than me.
  • Do I have to do this?
  • What does this have to do with me staying sober? ( I was SO argumentative when I got here!)

and lastly, when I became willing to be willing to try her direction, I said, what am I supposed to say?  

Just say hello!

I thought this was an incredibly bad idea.  But I eventually did it anyway (because in case you didn’t know it, that’s how this thing works. Either you eventually do the stuff that’s being asked of you or you probably don’t stay.) The next meeting I went to I spotted a girl across the room who seemed ‘talk-worthy’ and I walked over to her after the meeting and I said hello. And then she said hello. And then we both looked at each other and no one said anything (awkward!) and then I went back to the back row and sat down with my arms folded across my chest. I had no freaking idea what someone might say to someone else after hello. And I made a note to self: Ask Jeannie what you say to someone after you say hello.

You ask questions, silly!

Ahhh…questions.  Got it!  Because that’s what people do when they’re acting human and interested in others. And of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but it was more than a sobriety skill. It was a skill for living, and it was one I desperately needed.

***original networking tips provided by http://www.thepersonalbrandingblog.com/are-you-listening-7-tips-for-successful-networking/.  Many thanks!