Networks come in various shapes, sizes, or types: biological, neural, computer, electrical, radio, social, telecommunications, and television. There is an endless number of things that can be linked: parts of the body, cultures, people, organizations, computers, devices, thermostats, homes, equipment, engines, and even other networks.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes network, when used as a noun, as an arrangement of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines; and as a group or system of interconnected things. As a verb, it can mean to connect as or operate with a network; link (machines, especially computers) to operate interactively; interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.

What catches my attention about the nature of networks is that the word interactive is used to describe how a network functions. This means that information is flowing both or multiple directions across the nodes or members that comprise the network.

People and devices that are connected to the network need to be able to send and receive information in order to gain any value–and more importantly, provide information or value to others.

Non-participation in the network will make a device or person irrelevant. Only sending signals and not having the ability or interest to receive them in return limits your exposure to information that may help you.

Whether your network is digital or human, establishing your position in that group can take time because people may not be fully aware of your value. Very often you will be required to make the first step to demonstrate what you can do for others. Only then will information and feedback start to flow back to you.

Modern life seems to consist of layers of networks. Working across multiple networks requires flexibility and a strong sense of self, but also the ability to contribute to the life of the organism.

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