One of my mentors introduced me to the book and TED talk Tribal Leadership.  At the time the term “tribe” was new to me in the business context and now I understand the power.

Business building depends on knowing “your tribe” and the audience that resonates with your message.  It’s your brand.  At a basic level it is how people know that your skills meet their need for mutual connection.  The need to belong to the tribe is built into our DNA from prehistoric times.  And a good thing too!  It ensures we work together so that the species survives.

Are your networking conversations uplifting or constricting?

As with every coin, there’s another side to the tribal connection.  Many things can act as glue for that tribal bond; those that are uplifting or those that constrict.  Bonding, even a simple conversation, based upon something that constricts may be a dangerous indulgence.

I saw this in action at one of my regular networking meetings.   Two women were strengthening their tribal connection in a conversation. The first sharing her frustration with her inability to clear out an over-stuffed closet; the other shared an amplified level of disgust at her office desk rendered useless by out-dated samples from her business.  They were complaining, carping and kvetching; but mostly they were bonding.

This day I tried something different than my usual avoidance of complaining.  I offered a ‘game’.   I too had a cluttered desk, so I suggested that we could support each other with some accountability.  Since it was close to Christmas, we could send each other “before” pictures of our baneful areas and then, when we met again in the New Year, share our “after” pictures.  It sounded like fun to me.  NOT!

Immediately upon my suggestion the body language got LOUD.  Both women shifted so that their shoulders rather than faces were toward me and continued their bonding and self criticism as if I had disappeared.  What an eye-opener!  I was now OUT of the tribe.  They were not interested in a game that might bring a different of solution or connection.  They were most interested in strengthening the tribal bond; one that could continue to validate their procrastinating.

Fear of being rejected by the tribe is a common belief that stops my clients from getting what they want.  Connecting with a more uplifting tribe can mean changing things with family, friends, associates and even networking buddies.  Taking action in the presence of this fear is a first step to being able to state:

“Today my PASSION is greater than my FEAR.”

Here are a few ideas to help you determine if your networking is connecting you to the tribe you want.

  1. Awareness – Notice the source of your connection. Is it focused on the problem or the solution?
  2. Listen – Listen for warning phrases in the conversation like “it’s hard” or “I can’t” or “I should”, indicating a unconscious desire to keep the current situation in place.
  3. Assess – Every conversation comes with an “energy investment”, so choose wisely.
  4. Shift – Suggest a shift in the conversation to focus on the solution and see what happens.

You may find yourself available for a new, more empowering tribe.



JoAnne Marceau

Certified Transformational Coach