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Have you received support lately—a hug, a favour, a kind word? How did it feel? And how does it feel when you give support to someone else? As social creatures we are hardwired to feel good when we give to others. In turn, the experience of receiving increases our likelihood of repeating the action ourselves—we’re more inclined to give when we have received and the cycle is self perpetuating. The idea behind a personal network is that it’s personal – it’s about you, the people around you and the care and support that you share. A central feature of strong healthy networks and community belonging is reciprocity – the cycle of giving and receiving. An effective network of support can help us heal faster and get sick less often. The importance of reciprocity is no different within a Tyze network. Vibrant, supportive networks require a continuous cycle of giving and receiving. Indeed, sometimes we have to give before we can receive. A network has more opportunity to be effective if we think of giving as more than the act of doing something for someone. Communication, information and resources play an important role in facilitating the act of giving. If family and friends are not armed with information about a loved ones needs, it’s harder for them to contribute effectively. The ‘Network Effect’ When family and friends contribute, a ‘network effect’ is created. This notion was explored by Wellman and Frank (2000) in their study on the network capital of personal communities. Their findings show that the network effect is just as much about indirect reciprocity as it is direct reciprocity. Put another way, when we need help, we may receive it from someone that we have not ourselves helped but who is in our extended network. Ideas for maintaining reciprocity in your network: Giving
  • Communicate needs to your friends and family:
    • Write a weekly update on your Tyze network
    • Create to-do tasks for the most important things needed each weekmonth
    • Create a wish list and upload to Shared Files (a wish list could be things that you need help with, but that are not urgent)
    • Give freely and without expectation
Receiving
  • Acknowledge those who give help and support
    • Write a thank you post or give friends a call – saying thanks keeps the network’s wheels turning
    • Stay connected to how it feels to be able to receive the support of others
    • Every once in a while (if this works for you), plan a thank you moment. It could be as big or little as you are able – a card, dinner for friends, walk in a park, babysitting or a hug!
References B. Wellman and K. Frank, Network capital in a multi-level world: Getting support from personal communities. In Social Capital: Theory and Research, N. Lin, K. Cook, R. Burt, Eds. (Aldine DeGruyter, Chicago, 2001), pp. 233-273. Available online.

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