There are various reports, articles and statistics that reiterate the importance of networking in finding a new job or client. Networking is a vital tool in initiating new relationships, establishing your reputation and discovering opportunities.
No pressure there.
That’s the rub, there is such a high importance placed on networking that often people put so much pressure on themselves that they either:
- Don’t enjoy it
- Don’t succeed at it
- Don’t do it
I would like to offer a suggestion to help take some of the pressure off and mix up the networking tactics: don’t try to network, just have fun.
Let me clarify one thing: I believe we network any time we interact with someone new, we just don’t realize it. But being reminded often of the importance of networking, we have somehow changed our concept of it. Often, it is thought of as a chore or choreographed activity.
In reality it is simply having a conversation.
My mom was the first one to teach me networking, but neither one of us knew it. When I was little and we would go to the grocery store, my mom was the one that would talk to everyone. I do mean everyone: people in line, the checkout clerk, the bag boy, people in other lines, the produce person….
I remember once she was writing a check and asked the clerk what the date was, June 14. When she heard this she told the clerk, “Oh yes, it is Flag Day.” Being about eight years old, I was mortified. It only got worse when they had a discussion of Flag Day.
But the point is, besides I have turned into my mother, that she was networking and the reason we did not realize it was because she was always having fun with it.
Last night I attended a fantastic event with a dear friend: the showcase event for the Indianapolis Winter Festival at IndyFringe. It featured snippets of the performers acts for this weekend’s festival.
Two words: mind blown.
The plan was attend the show and grab a bite after. We were quite late in getting that bite to eat because we had so much fun talking to the performers and other attendees after the show. We networked without trying because we were having so much fun. Beyond the magic, which again was amazing, here is what I gained:
• I made friends with a photographer who works at most of the fringe’s events, although he won’t be there this weekend; he and his wife have 4.5 cats and he realized one of them looks like an owl; and his wife is indeed taller than me.
• Owls are not as intelligent as we thought, it is kinda cool to watch them decapitate and eat a mouse (it was already dead) and they have teeny, tiny thin necks, the rest is feathers. The bird guy
• There is a certain theater in London that you should not wear purple because it burnt down some time ago and the performer at the time was wearing purple, also, London audiences are very polite – even if they love you they don’t really. clap Oscar Muñoz
• There are several classifications and competitions, world competitions for magicians.
• The audience, no matter the size, is the partner in the show; when performing it is a balance between performing, relating and engaging; no matter what they are doing or how long they have been doing their craft, they have this sparkle in their eye and enchanting enthusiasm with they talk about it. Trent James
• If they use cards, they buy decks by the pallet load, they are amazingly quick on their feet, adaptable and a little sly but the goal is not to have someone fall over themselves in amazement, it is a smile even from the most stoic and staunch person. Hannibal
• IndyFringe is like a magical garden to the members of the Board of Directors; they unselfishly and enthusiastically provide it with care, dedication and love transforming it into a beautiful and enchanting wondrous place to be shared with the entire community. They meticulously attend to every detail from the building of a second theater, attending to performers and guests and planning for what is next. They are parent gardeners and this is their child and they are a force of nature.
I found all these things out by talking with several people last night, by networking. I made new friends and connections. It was an absolutely successful evening of networking because my intention was not to network; it was to have fun.
Mission accomplished, and then some!
To find out more about this weekend’s Winter Magic Festival, click here. Shows are appropriate for all ages. I promise you will be amazed and possibly transformed back into childlike wonder…