I often start a post with. "I know a guy..." because I do know someone. Partly, it is my business. I am often asked by one homeowner or another if I know a plumber, painter, yard man, handyman and of course, I do. What strikes me as odd is they don't. They have a home with plumbing, roofs, painted walls, grass in the yard, etc. and they know no one who can do that work. Sure, you can look someone up in the yellow pages or on Angie's List but, why don't you know a guy?
Why do you not know the people you know? Is your world so small you have no room for anyone but people who are mirror images? After years of getting to know me there is a world of things my clients have no idea of about me. I am good with that. They don't need to know the ins and outs of the family; who is talking to whom, who has money trouble, who is exceeding all expectations in life, who preps, who has a concealed carry permit, who doesn't. But, after five or six years they should know, I know a guy when I don't have the time or desire to take on the job myself.
If you are in your home or your retreat you should know your neighbors and a bit about each one. Don't get hung up in their personal details, that is rude and could be considered prying. Get to know their skills, hobbies, habits. You may find this a bit easier if you entertain or at least invite your neighbors to a function you host. Never invite neighbors to the two year old grandson's birthday. I'm talking about a summer BBQ or a winter night by the backyard fire pan after a nice roast pork and fried potato dinner.
It's nice if you have a gossip who fills you in but doesn't ask too many personal questions. And it is nice to know who the gossip is so they can be avoided, if necessary. In my neighborhood, I can't throw out a television box without one neighbor coming over to see what brand it is. Over the years I have learned to cut down boxes and bury them under trash bags. But, I also know the one neighbor who has worked for a tile company, a debris removal company, a driveway brick layer, and is now working as a custom linoleum installer. He is still friendly with all the former employers and can call on them to borrow equipment to do side jobs. Good to know.
More important for post-TEOTWAWKI is to know who are the people in your circles with real world training and experience in fields that will assist your survival. Knowing a nurse or a Navy Corpsman are helpful. Having a Doctor who can doctor and teach medical skills to others is a dream. A combat experienced prepper is nice, but one who reached a certain rank and had the training to train others is even better. If you are the person with these skills, you need to know the farmers, the gardeners, the builders, engineers or the workers willing to be trained.
BUT, an anecdotal warning:
I had an ex who listed all his assets in a little black book. Somewhere between the VCR and the Betamax, I saw my name listed. I got my rear end on my shoulders and it did not go well for either of us. I'm over it, now, but at the time I was really miffed! I felt he was valuing me as a person with a pricetag. He couldn't convince me otherwise, so I suggest you not make a black book list of your family!
Still, get to know the people you know and what they do, what they know and if they are open to barter, trade, or joining your circle.