The Power of Networking Through Shared Experiences

AnnieGlickmanIntro from Alana:

Today’s post comes from my dear friend and sister of my heart, Annie Glickman.  Fair warning:  When I first read Annie’s submission, I was moved to tears.   It is quintessential Annie in its beauty, vulnerability, resonance and truth.  I could both empathize and sympathize with Annie’s words and, as a member of Annie’s Priya Fund, it is personal for my family and me, too.

Annie received her B.A. in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies and her M.A. in Jewish Education from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She is also a graduate of the Senior Educators Program of the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has been a teacher at Beit Rabban Day School in Manhattan, New York, and the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center Melton School in Dallas, Texas. She is currently Director of School Services for the international Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and co-founded Priya: A Fund for Jewish Reproduction in both Dallas, Texas, and Overland Park, Kansas, in which she was awarded a JTS Seeds of Innovation national grant. She is also the current Director of Priya in Kansas, which is in partnership with The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Jewish Family Services and The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City. Annie is married to Rabbi David Glickman (see last year’s November post, “Making Work Holy — Regardless of Your Career“) and has three children, Gavi (16), Ellie (12) and Dani (8).

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Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon.  Guest Post by Annie Glickman.

When my son was born, my mother said that she couldn’t get the song “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon out of her head.  She’d hold him, rock him in her arms and gently, in lullaby fashion, whisper “Beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful boy,” as Lennon’s legendary refrain would go.

My mother said that being a parent was her greatest achievement. When my husband and I were diagnosed with unexplained “secondary infertility” a few years later, I learned that no one should take the gift of being a parent for granted.  Based on this experience, I decided that part of my life’s mission must include helping those in my community who struggle with issues surrounding fertility.  The more I talked about my experience, the more I heard from others about their difficulties, heartaches and loneliness with their fertility challenges. When it came time to launch a new project in my community to address these issues, I called upon those who believed in this cause as much as I did to seek their support in carrying this mission forward.  These “cheerleaders,” who are excited to see new phases of the project’s growth, fuel the passion for my work.

My cheerleaders emerged through one-on-one conversations, mostly in coffee shops a la coffeelunchcoffee.com. Stories were shared, trust was built and I came away with advocates in my professional corner. In turn, I had the opportunity to learn what inspires them and offer ways I might be of assistance in helping them achieve their goals.  I took an emotional risk during these networking experiences, and shared a bit more about myself beyond my c.v.  The connections I made as a result were well worth the risk.

Thankfully, with the right mix of Western as well as Eastern medicine, prayers and good-fortune, our secondary infertility was resolved.  I was able to conceive two more children, this time girls. Lennon’s famous lyrics still resonated, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

Networking isn’t just about getting us to the next step in our professional careers. Networking in and of itself is essential to our professional growth, and has the power to influence our personal goals too.  In my case, these two aspects intersected and have changed the course of my life.

We should allow ourselves to speak passionately and openly with those who share our dreams. Taking an emotional risk can deepen professional networking ties; we are challenged to think in new ways. We become accountable for believing in ourselves, we learn that our ambitions are worthwhile.

Like my mother, the job I most value is being a parent and I am grateful for this opportunity. The rewards are far from monetary but every day has infinite possibility.  When we connect with others in a professional setting, even over vulnerable aspects our lives, we open ourselves up to creating a better world together. This is worth singing about.

3 thoughts to “The Power of Networking Through Shared Experiences”

  1. It’s amazing how far things have come since I went through in vitro the first time in 2003. People in my circle really didn’t speak of fertility issues. It was torture watching my friends become pregnant time and time again, often joking that they only had to look at one another and they could conceive. Of course I was thrilled for them! I was. After 7 years of marriage and the constant questioning of when would we be parents, our baby girl arrived. 2.5 years later, our son.
    I had heard a name or two of people going through similar situations.
    I’m hoping the stigma surrounding infertility continues to fade and that our community lifts up these beautiful people struggling and surrounds them with love and support.

  2. It’s amazing how far things have come since I went through in vitro the first time in 2003 and yet there’s still a ways to go. People in my circle really didn’t speak of fertility issues. It was torture watching my friends become pregnant time and time again, often joking that they only had to look at one another and they could conceive. Of course I was thrilled for them! I was. After 7 years of marriage and the constant questioning of when would we be parents, our baby girl arrived. 2.5 years later, our son.
    I had heard a name or two of people going through similar situations.
    I’m hoping the stigma surrounding infertility continues to fade and that our community lifts up these beautiful people struggling and surrounds them with love and support.

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