I stumbled across the Sydney Story Factory after yet another encounter with the black dog. My Mum sensed I needed something extra, something to draw me out of my inner world, and at the time, volunteering seemed as good an idea as any.

So I did a google search ‘ volunteering opportunities in Sydney’

And there in bold appeared ‘ Sydney Story Factory – creative writing volunteers needed’

It was as if the heavens had sent a sign – a golden light shone forth from my Apple devise, bathing me in a warm glow.

As a trained primary school teacher with a passion for writing, coupled with an over active imagination – the stars aligned that day in March 2013. I registered my interest there and then.

In an instant I became immersed in the world of creative thought. Imagination of the pencil to paper variety…My smile returned.

And all thanks to one remarkable women ( well two if you count Mum) – Cath Keenan. Founder of the Factory. When our paths first crossed at the volunteer induction I wanted to knit her into blanket form and wrap myself in her positivity, optimism, passion, energy & commitment to ‘ sparking creativity in every child’.

Resisting this urge, I did the more sensible thing of volunteering.When work- life balance tilted heavily in the direction of work, I supported the Factory through donations and my work as Internship Program Coordinator, sending the best of the best for placements. Often I was so jealous of the student nominations that I held off for weeks!! Pick me Cath, pick me!!

Instigators of ideas, people whose passion, energy & vision embodies them, wholeheartedly driving them forward. On a mission, one that they communicate to others with such eloquence, that the curious can’t help but be swept up in the joyous movement of the community.

And truly great mentor’s ┬áhave a strong, supportive and loyal community around them. They keep these people close, they understand that without them, their ideas lay dormant, never morphing into a thing of shape or substance.

From my three years experience in network building, I say to those new to the concept, find a mentor that ticks your boxes and stick by them. For great mentors are generous, they share their good fortune with their flock, their tribe. Their network becomes your network.

But take note, from someone who has trodden the murky and foggy networking path to seek out like minded individuals –

You cannot fake connection
People can see through falsehoods
Mentors seek authenticity
Be true to you and the rest will follow

It with a new found ease that people of substance enter my inner circle….knitting needles at the ready, new crochet squares continually being added to my colourful, collaborative, diversely delightful networking patchwork quilt.

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