Three Flavors of Networking and the Weight Loss Community

Networking is hot today. It has moved way beyond idle chat and trading business cards at cocktail hours. The advent of social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter has opened new networking venues. Networking is thriving in the bariatric community.  I would argue that social networking is responsible for the very active and connected weight loss community.

I am an avid social networker. I use Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis. I try to post a few times week to this blog and visit other weight loss blogs on a daily basis. I pop my head into the Obesity Help message boards and offer some support as time permits. I am a believer in the power of social networking. I also enjoy old-fashioned in-person networking with fellow bariatric patients. A combination of virtual and in-person networks works well for me.

In my work life, I receive daily tips for the Harvard Business Review. It never ceases to amaze me how many topics in the business world can be applied to our personal lives. A management tip I received this past week was about the importance of networking. As the tip said, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

The author named three distinct networks that you need to address to be a well networked business person. I found it easy to translate these into social networking and with my involvement in the weight loss surgery community. Each of the three support networks offer a unique perspective and overlap with each other to make an all-encompassing network of support.

Why should you care about networking? It is the key to developing and sustaining the strong support needed as a bariatric patient. I do know this as a given fact. Those who seek out and maintain strong support mechanisms after surgery are more successful than those who fall away and let the network wither over time. Networking is well worth the time invested to maintain the successes realized through weight loss surgery.

Personal support is the people who are there to keep you honest. They are people that you turn to when you need to get back on t rack or are facing a problem in your weight loss journey. I am fortunate to have a good personal support network with my partner who is a 5 year RNY veteran, my best friend who motivates me to achieve more, and other bariatric friends. I am also fortunate to have built a strong on-line support network from my years of chatting on Obesity Help. I count several of those folks as some of my best friends today.

Purpose support is the support of peers, fellow bariatric patients and friends, who interact with you at bariatric programs and events. These are the voices who affirm that your progress and story has made a difference in others’ lives and have meaning beyond the meeting or event. For me, these are the members of my weight loss cycling club. I have seen many lives changes as people get on a bike and ride for the first time in 20 years.

Work/Life Balance is the support of family friends, coworkers and other bariatric patients who are there to make you accountable for activities that improve your physical health, mental engagement, or spiritual well-being. For me, these are my fellow cyclists who keep me cycling, my Weight Watchers at Work group who keep me watching my diet, my primary care physician, cardiologist and bariatric surgeon’s staff who all remind me of the importance of being active and living healthy life.

Keep you networks alive and you will reap the benefits.

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