Networking is one of those things that everyone knows they should do but that we all put off for one reason or another. Maybe you don’t feel ready to put yourself out there yet or perhaps you think you don’t need to grow your network because you have a job already.
Full disclosure: I was one of these people. Until the beginning of this year when I made it my goal to intentionally expand my community. On January 1st, I got my calendar out and Googled all the networking events in my area, filling my calendar up. Each week I had at least one event, sometimes even two or three. I’m a Capricorn so when I set my mind to something, I go above and beyond. I’m also an introvert so I was really pushing myself to the limit socially.
I went to all kinds of events with all sorts of people. Some were self-care focused while others drew a more corporate crowd. I met a ton of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other people like me who were starting to find their way through their career. Here, I’ve compiled all the nuggets of wisdom that I came across.
Find your “Portal People” – Claire Wasserman
So often when we think about networking, we think about meeting strangers or making brand new connections. We fail to really tap into our existing network in an intentional way. Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid, says to look inward at your established circle of connections and within that look for what she calls your Portal People. Portal People are those people in our lives that are extremely well-connected. They seemingly know everyone and can potentially connect you with the kind of people you really need, sometimes without you even knowing.
Remember: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect. – Paul K Lee
Where are my fellow perfectionists at? The notion that everything you create, publish, or work on has to fit this boxed-in perfection is going to kill your productivity. Trust me, it killed mine and stopped me from doing what I knew would truly fulfil me on far too many occasions. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for relentless perfectionism except to be aware of it and remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do the thing, do it the best you can, and get it out there.
If you struggle with perfectionism as a creative, join me and Stepfanie as we host our first Craft + Chat event. We’ll talk perfection (what it is and how it manifests) over delicious healthy snacks and then we’ll break through perfection by making some zines together.
Don’t Sell Out, Ask Your Why, Have Integrity, and Be Authentic. – Anne Marie Martinez
Remember earlier this year when Marie Kondo’s Netflix show was first released and got a ton of complex feedback from angry book lovers? People were really questioning how far do you take this whole “spark joy” concept?
I have a can opener. Does it spark joy when I close my eyes and hold it close? Not really. But what I get from that can opener (delicious meals that I share with my family) does. Do I love sitting in LA traffic? Absolutely not. But what lies at the end of every excruciatingly long minute I sit bumper to bumper (hanging with friends or meeting new ones) is what I live for. Sometimes we do things that don’t bring us direct joy but help us in the long run toward something that will.
So how do you negotiate authenticity? How do you balance what you need to do with what you want?
It’s tough when you’re starting out as a freelancer or entrepreneur and you need money to do the things you love. It’s really hard to do work that doesn’t excite you and make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. But while it might not feel like an authentic calling you have to do what you have to do so you can do what you want.
Ask for help and Don’t Have Pride. – Uriel Saenz
In a post-Instagram world, it is so hard to be vulnerable. To let your guard down and really let people see you, and not just your highlight reel. One of two things will happen if you ask someone to look up to for help; they’ll say yes or they’ll say no. The only thing stopping you is your pride. You have to let that stuff go if you really want to be successful in any facet of your life.
Simply Ask “What Can I Do to Help?” – Claire Wasserman
This is another good one from Claire Wasserman. Side note: if you haven’t been to a Ladies Get Paid seminar or town hall, I can’t recommend it enough.
I went to a networking event about networking (how meta is that?) hosted by Ladies Get Paid at Cross Campus DTLA. Claire really turned my perception and application of networking on its head with so many tips and tricks all of which I’m not going to share here but this one was too good not to.
Instead of approaching networking as this neat and tidy task to check off of your list and move on to the next thing – treat it as something that fits into your life naturally. The easiest way to do this is to look to your existing network and ask not what they can do for you but what you can do for them.
Meet and Talk About Stuff Other Than Work
One of the main reasons I made a point of going to a few networking events that weren’t typical is because I truly believe that the strongest connections are made not by talking about work but by bonding over shared experiences. A meal, a writing exercise, a discussion – anything that gets people to share the most authentic sides of themselves that would otherwise be impossible to bear witness to in a strictly professional environment. A few worth looking into: I Am Well Community, Kitchen Table App, and Ampersand Dinners.
You Have To Be Your Number One Fan – Natasha Pasternak
When you’re going out on your own as a freelancer or a business owner you’re going to have haters. The hardest thing though, is when the people who are supposed to be your biggest fans, aren’t. Your family may not always root for you in moments of uncertainty. Not because they don’t understand your vision or they don’t believe in you but because they are worried for you. No one is going to fill that role, so you have to be your own number one fan. It sounds a little dark but it made me feel so much better. I hope it helps you, too.
I want to hear from you!
Do you loathe networking events? Are you one of those unicorn people who loves them? If any of this struck a chord for you, I’d love to hear about it. Email or DM me.