Networking is a poisonous word. It’s too blatantly obvious about its intentions. It sidles up to you, give you a sleezy smile, slips you its business card and hopes to get something out of you.
Okay, hard hitting introductions out of the way, networking as a concept is good. Getting to know people, making friends in the right places, all that good stuff. To be clear, business meetings don’t count as networking to me. That’s business. To me, networking
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is trying to meet new people with only selfish intentions. What’s in it for me?
Of course, we all have selfish intentions to some extent. it just seems that when they have no basis other than financial the problem starts.
I went to a ‘networking’ event (read: mid-week drinking session with strangers) a while ago and boy, did I crash and burn. I went in, business card in hand, made a lame, mildly offensive joke and thought that would endear me. I was so very wrong. Fortunately, the guys
I introduced myself to quickly set me straight. Essentially, they called me on my bullshit. Good thing too, I learned a lot about talking to people during those couple of hours. My problem was I approached them for no reason other than thinking, ‘maybe these guys work somewhere that might help me get ahead in my career’. This is just selfish and won’t get me anywhere.
So now, I simply talk to people. I make sure I’m happy and friendly, not to mention hilariously entertaining. If I make an impression to the extent that someone in the right place remembers me at the right time and throws me a career ‘bone’, then great. If I just made a mate, that’s great too. No pressure.
I think there are instances where it seems to be okay, such as for sales professionals. They all know what they’re looking for and they’re okay with it. That’s fine, more power to ’em.
I’m a creative professional though. We’re a different breed. So regular rules in building business relationships don’t really apply to us in the same way. So we just hang out, have a few drinks and make a mate or two along the way.
The rest…just happens.