Last week I was asked to speak to the Kansas City chapter of the ASMP, along with Jason Dailey, The Freelance Exchange's vice president. The talk was mainly about benefits of joining, but in explaining the value of the group, the discussion went much deeper into what we, as humans need at a base level and are lacking by spending so much time glued to our electronic devices.
Networking (I originally typed newtworking… ha! That's something completely different!) doesn't have to be seen as negative. How many times have you heard that networking is crucial to your career? Of course it is! How many times have you really worked your network in the past year? I thought so. Networking is really about connection. Making real and honest connections with other fellow humans. That's it. But, if it's still kind of *bleh* in your head, let's appease the left brain by analyzing word network.
noun—an open meshed fabric used to contain
adjective—what remains after deductions
View your friends, peers, and acquaintances as your open-meshed fabric—your safety net—with each strand representing an individual. The knots are the connections you’ve cultivated with them. Your network contains your friends, peers and acquaintances. To grow your business, you can tap the connections in your net. If you lose everything, what remains is your network. If you need a resource (job-related or otherwise), you reach out to your net.
noun—exertion, effort directed to produce something
verb—to do work; to produce something
You can’t have a network without the work part of it. You just can’t need something and have it magically appear. Yes, it takes effort, but that effort can be fun when you’ve made real connections with people.
noun—an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, etc.
With every new person you meet in the industry, try to make a genuine connection—not just asking about occupation, and in what city they live. Ask what they really enjoy about their current role, what they like helping people with, what they're interests are outside of a "job." If you really connect, you will remember each person individually. If time doesn’t permit a lengthy connection, jot down on their business card “loves cars,” or “collects shoes,” “really into sports.” Anything—even if it’s “shared Lyft to airport”—that helps you remember the individual and the connection you've made.
After the birth of our first child, I had the luxury to quit my full-time job and only do 5-10 hours of freelance work per week. Then my husband lost his job when I was expecting our second child less than two years later, and it was necessary for me to support the family (and pay for our cobra insurance—yikes!) while he job-hunted. I sent out a call for help to my network for freelance work. Any work. Nothing was too menial.
What happened? I got work. I got a lot of work. I went from working 5-10 hours a week to 30-40 hours a week. We made it six months on just my freelance work, thanks to my network!! And my husband got a job just a few days before our second child was born. Whew!
See, it's about making connections that can benefit you down the road. So when you see the word networking, replace it with connecting and you'll feel the difference. And probably attend more networking events!
“We human beings are social beings.
We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.” --The Dalai Lama
Thanks for reading. Good juju to you! =)
p.s. Just as you can call on your network in times of need, remember to be a support to others as well. How can I help you?