By Beth Bronfman, Managing Partner at View; C200 Member since 2003.

One of the things I value most in life is my network. Over the years, I have managed to surround myself with a group of individuals I wouldn’t trade for the world.  They are intelligent, thoughtful, and kind. They have impeccable business acumen, and many are among the very best in the world at what they do. In ways that are both minor and monumental, this cohort has made me a better person than I ever could have been alone.

I’ve found my people. The best advice I could ever give you is to find yours—and to hold onto them!

Life is a wonderful journey. It’s exciting, complicated, and everything in between. Just when you think you have everything figured out and under control, a global pandemic comes out of nowhere and teaches you otherwise. (But if it wasn’t a pandemic, it would be something else: a health scare, a sudden disruption in your industry, or any number of other derailers that would make you reevaluate everything you’ve worked for and prioritized throughout the years.)  Going through that kind of thing (or anything) alone is hard.

As human beings, we are social creatures. We have an intrinsic need for belonging, and a core aspect of living our best life is forming meaningful connections with others. Most of us realize this on a personal level, but it’s also true professionally.

As a leader, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. If you want to keep growing, it’s essential to continue forming new connections with people who will challenge you, give you fresh ideas, and expose you to new perspectives. This kind of guidance and support is priceless.

This is why I joined C200 almost 20 years ago. I was grateful for C200’s onboarding program that provided opportunities to connect with fellow members; I felt a comfort level from the first event I attended. The women I met at that new member luncheon are still an important part of my network today.

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I was able to improve something or make the best decision for my business because I learned a great tip or strategy from one of my connections. In fact, without these wonderful people in my life, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t still be running a successful advertising agency.

I received some invaluable insight from my cohort about 10 years ago when my business partner decided to retire. Our company was going through some major changes and a big conglomerate wanted to buy us. I was both thrilled and flattered, but I wasn’t sure if it was the right move. My husband, accountant, and lawyer were immensely helpful, but the advice I needed extended beyond facts and figures. I needed to talk it through with people I trusted, brainstorm different scenarios for how it might play out, and think about how my happiness could be impacted.

In the end, I chose not to sell. It was the right decision, and I’m honestly not sure if I would have made it on my own. The people I confided in had known me for years and they understood what made me tick. They were able to break down potential scenarios and give me personalized advice that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Their support was life-changing, and I’m beyond grateful that I still own my firm today.

This is just one example of how a solid network can serve as your life preserver in challenging times. Being a member of C200 throughout the pandemic reinforced the value in finding my people. The camaraderie and valuable discussions on our regular C200 Council calls helped me maintain connections and make important decisions in my business.

And although it’s helpful to have a network to lean on in difficult times, sharing your wins with your people is one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had. My C200 community has always been there to celebrate, inspire, and support my success.

Here are a few tips for finding your people and holding onto them:

Practice generosity of spirit

So many people network because they want to help themselves land a new job or bring in more business for their firm. This is the wrong mentality! When you network—intentionally or otherwise—your focus should be on adding value. Be a good listener, a mentor, and go out of your way to make introductions and give referrals. Having a service mentality will help you build meaningful relationships that stand the test of time.

Be a joiner

Most well-connected people belong to a lot of groups and associations. These kinds of organizations are the perfect platform for making new connections because they are filled with people who value relationships and put the time into cultivating new ones. Personally, I belong to and have served on the boards of C200, The Women Presidents’ Organization, and The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce—just to name a few. I’ve held leadership roles and board positions at other organizations over the years as well. Sometimes my friends are amazed at how many people I know, but after all of the organizations I’ve been involved in, I should know a lot of people!

If you’re looking to widen your own circle this year, join a couple new groups even if they only have virtual meetings. Keep in mind that it’s nice to connect with people who have a lot in common with you, but you often learn more from heterogeneous groups.

Take care of your team

Some of the most important individuals in my network are my employees. Many of them have truly become like family, and without their dedication and hard work, we couldn’t serve our clients. That’s why I felt it was my duty to take care of my team when it seemed like the world was crumbling around us. These past two years, I’ve focused on leading with compassion and understanding. When employees couldn’t make meetings or reply immediately to emails because they were home with young children, I not only gave them the benefit of the doubt, but I asked our clients to do so as well. At our agency, View, we’ve always gone above and beyond to provide the best possible experience for clients, and we will continue to do so by giving one another more grace.

Finding your people and keeping in touch with them is more important than ever before. Now is the time to call an old friend, reach out to a past colleague on LinkedIn, or join that association you’ve been eyeing for years. If you make a real effort to get to know others, you will be amazed at how much it impacts your life. Never stop connecting!