Friday, September 16, 2016

Networking

As someone who has been involved at some level or another in survivalism, or it's most recent incarnation, prepping, since the 70s, I've seen a lot of things come and go.  In the 70s, we had a lot of lone wolf types who were going to go down in their bunker, pull the hole in after them and wait for The End of The World to be over, after which they would emerge, ready to be one of the few who would put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Uh-huh.

These days, we see a lot more intelligence applied to the subject.  While many still primarily prepare for the doomsday scenario, far more are preparing for things far less serious but far more likely to occur, such as hurricanes, ice storms and, as has happened to me recently, job loss.

Something that quickly occurred to many people in the 70s is that the Lone Wolf or Wolf Pack (a small number of people hunkered down in that same bunker) is too few people to perform all the tasks needed to ensure the group's long term survival.  A small group of 3, 6 or even 12 people will be hard pressed to till, plant and harvest enough food, provide adequate security and have the breadth of skills necessary in a long term survival scenario.  (We'll leave out the genetic concerns of inbreeding.)

Around Y2K, talk turned to building intentional communities of like-minded individuals, big enough to provide the critical mass of bodies and skills that would be necessary after the turn of the millennium brought all the computers to their collective electronic knees and civilization collapsed.  Fortunately for all of you, people like me busted our butts for several years, and the real damage done was slight and easily dealt with for the most part.  I will admit that I found getting emails on the morning of Jan. 2 dating from 1969 to be a bit humorous, though.

Today, it appears that we have moved away from the intentional communities (at least for the most part, there are still a number of them out there and going strong, such as Rawles' Redoubt in the northwest US) and toward more individual/family-oriented prepping, but with a twist.  With the rise of the Internet, it has become almost foolishly easy to reach out to other kindred souls and form groups.  I've seen a number of them on various prep-oriented boards, some of the as large as "Southeast" and some as narrow as a given subdivision.  I think this is probably a good thing overall, as there are probably as many different variations on prepping as there are preppers.

In my case, I had made preparations for job loss, and had started that some time ago.  I knew going into the job that my Itty-Bitty University in the Boonies had funding issues.  Helping fix that was part of why I was hired.  It was obvious over the years that things were getting worse and events beginning in the spring and continuing through the summer made it clear that I needed to be sure I and my family were positioned to survive the potential loss of my job and income.  I had carefully went over all the numbers and concluded we could do it.  There would be cut backs, but we can live without "Ooooh shiney!"

During my employment I had started doing something that you often hear mentioned as a good career move, and that we have been discussing above--networking.  I set up a LinkedIn account and started linking with co-workers, vendors, people I met at trade shows, pretty much everyone who made sense from a connection point of view.  I also made sure to carefully construct my profile to put my best foot forward.

I also "put myself out there" by participating in professional groups.  This is a bit harder than it might sound, because I'm not much of a "joiner".  But I forced myself out of my comfort zone and joined anyway.  Amazingly, I didn't die.  :-)

Then there was the issue of stopping myself from turning down opportunities to get exposure.  I've authored a couple of professional articles for some small publications in my field, started participating on various discussion boards and attending more vendor group meetings.

All of these things have their analogies in the prepping world.  Substitute Facebook (I'm sorry, but I'm not as paranoid about it as many in the prepping community are--we're already on the damn list, so get over it) for LinkedIn and you have a powerful free platform that can reach people all over the world with your message.

In place of professional groups, you can substitute groups such as a ham radio club, a volunteer fire department or something similar, where you can gain valuable skills and knowledge while making connections with people who may share some of the same concerns as you.

Instead of authoring articles for a publication, you can start a blog.  Write about the things you know.  If your contribution to the accumulated prepping body of knowledge is "just" a better way of waterproofing matches,  that is still something that is critically important.  Share the wealth.

There are a ton of prepping-oriented boards, and lot of boards that are devoted to skills that preppers like to acquire.  Participate in them.  If you have nothing useful to say, just read.  You'll be surprised what you will pick up and what others will pick up from you.

Those of you who have been hanging around here for a while know these posts are usually motivated by something that's happened to me, and this one is no exception.  Today was officially to be my last day at Itty-Bitty University.  Wednesday was actually the last day, as the new folks had finished wringing out all the information they felt they needed.  (Pity they didn't know all the right questions to ask, but that's not my fault.)

Today, I've been offered what will likely be a moderately lucrative consulting gig and I'm pretty sure I was asked to apply for a position that would be a nice step up from my old one.  That's what my network has stirred up for me, and I haven't even really tried reaching out to people in it yet.  This came from a few people in it who had heard of my situation and mentioned my name to a couple of people who might be looking for someone with my unusual set of skills.

Imagine what a well-curated network of survival-oriented contacts could do for you in a bad situation.  Start reaching out now, before you need them.  The ass you save may just be your own.