I totally missed that I'd just passed a career milestone; 22 years as a consultant in health care and other things I've marketed over the years. I don't put this out here because I'm trying to brag; I put it out here because of how the landscape has changed during the period of time when I wasn't as active.

Yes, this is me

When I had a long term out of town assignment end back in 2014, I started noticing that my mother didn't seem... well... right. Some of her habits had changed, and I couldn't put my finger on it. My grandmother had passed away 3 years earlier, and my mother was now alone in her house. I lived about 90 minutes away, so I'd visit every couple of weeks to check on her, which helped me notice that there were definite changes happening.

At that time I was still networking, but way less than I'd done previously. It wasn't until almost 2 years later when I'd finally convinced her care provider that it was time to give her the dementia diagnosis so I could fully start taking charge of some of her bills and such, even though I had power of attorney for all of that before.

However, I had an ominous feeling about what was coming; I'd found out that my taking her car keys away from her (I didn't tell her I'd done it) had started her leaving the house and walking down the street she lived on to her friend's house without my knowing about it; no coat, no sweater, and her friend couldn't tell me about it because she didn't have my phone number at the time.

Less than 2 months later she fell in her house around 3 in the morning, didn't remember how to use the care alert button. Luckily, because I had an odd feeling earlier in the day that something was going to happen, I'd asked her best friend, the same lady I mentioned earlier, if she'd check on Mom. She decided to stay overnight until I could get there in the morning. I woke at the same time, a bit disoriented but worried; the phone call came around 10 minutes later; talk about cosmic connections!

I ended up going to the hospital, where it was determined by the medical staff that they weren't going to discharge her to home because they believed, rightly, that she couldn't take care of herself, and I was left with only one alternative; she was coming home with me.

That was January 2017; a month later she had a heart attack that didn't give itself away easily; it's not always like it appears on TV. She had heart surgery, came home from the hospital 10 days later, and stayed with me until she passed in September 2001 except for a stay in a couple of nursing homes, as I'd had shoulder surgery a week before she got sick (not Covid related), and once again they wouldn't discharge her to home because they believed I couldn't take care of her by myself (which was kind of true; I had help here and there), and she went to the first, then the second, nursing home for physical therapy... which turned out to be a royal mess.

The part of this story that involves my business is that after Mom moved in to live with me, she was my "job" and my "career"; almost all networking was gone, even on LinkedIn. I had a few small projects over the next few years that I could still work from home; whew! But those came from people reaching out to me instead of by marketing or networking; it's proof that SEO on one's website isn't a totally useless thing.

Our last picture together, 2019

After my mother passed away, which was traumatic, it took me almost a year to regain some of my spirit back. However, I found that by the time I started trying to network again on LinkedIn, most of the people who I'd worked with and communicated with previously had left the industry; it seems many decided Covid was telling them it was time to retire.

I'd also forgotten how I used to network, and the LinkedIn landscape had changed, so I basically stay quiet unless something compels me to speak or share a thought. In the last year or so, I've only requested a handful of people to connect with me. I believe they've all been people I already knew, but we'd never connected on LinkedIn; that's interesting since I've been on LinkedIn since 2004. These days, overwhelmingly, the people who want to connect with me are either sales & marketing people or financial advisors; and since I'm not in the position to pay for any outside services at the present time, I connect with few of them.

Years ago I connected with almost anyone who asked; it was based on the LION principle, which stands for "Linkedin Open Networker". At one point I was connected to around 3,000 people, most of whom I never ended up talking to. The concept of connecting to people I'd never talk to, let alone shared beliefs with, was overridden by the recommendation that there was success in numbers, no matter what those numbers meant. I did it because I was new to marketing and networking; I came to learn that wasn't the way to go.

These days I'm connected to fewer than 600 people. That number gets lower when I reach out to someone I'm connected to so I can ask a question or establish a conversation, and I don't hear from that person in more than a week. LinkedIn isn't what it used to be, especially after Microsoft purchased it. Still, I'm happy that I've recently met some very nice people; not in my industry, but that's not everything.

I don't chase numbers anymore; I never did it on Twitter or Facebook. Instead, I support people I've been loyal to and with for a long time; people who support things I care about; people who support and share what I post on LinkedIn from time to time; and people who are "kind of" in an industry I'm related to that I've had the pleasure to talk to.

Without a true conversation with others who feel like they have compatible beliefs or interests, there's no point in trying to network with people you know you're never going to work with, or have a conversation with, where the only purpose is to market one's services. I know that I don't fit the marketplace with this belief; even people in my former local consultant's group disagreed with me here. lol

Still, that's how I see things in this new world. Reaching to others by asking questions, seeing if anyone knows if there's potential connections for gigs or services, or even making a veiled sales pitch to someone you know who you know is looking for something that's up your alley is different; that's what networking is supposed to be.

I'm not only looking to help myself; I'll go out of my way to help others when I can, and I've done that. But it needs to be and feel genuine. Otherwise, it's just a numbers game; the only games I play these days is chess, Sudoku, and an occasional few hours of poker here and there.

Anyway, that's all I've got. Back to work, research, and whatever else comes my way, on LinkedIn and elsewhere.