The word "networking" has gotten an unsavory reputation recently, maybe because it conjures sweaty, awkward events with fishbowls full of poorly designed business cards. Here are some typical reasons someone might give for not wanting to go to a networking event:
1) I have no one to go with.
2) I am not in the mood.
3) I don't have time and I am not sure if the event will be worth it.
We'd like to FLIP that mindset and say:
1) Go alone. It's the best way to meet people. You are at a networking event for that exact reason, along with everybody else.
2) When are we truly ever in the mood to leap out of our comfort zones? So, ignore the TV shows you need to catch up on, that drink with your complaining coworkers, and your primal fears, and go. We guarantee that once you get to the event you can find some genuine connections with people.
3) This is a valid concern, since our time is most certainly precious. That is why we started our DELVE Networking series. We can guarantee that each event will leave you inspired to do more--and you might even make some new friends.
Of the two of us, I (Andrea) am more of a natural networker. I am genuinely curious about who people are and what they do, and it could be in my DNA--my father used to be the M.C. of our annual town festival and he found it great fun. He always gave it his all because he understood that his community could be more rewarding when people were brought together and connections were made. When we started these events in March of 2013, Sara, the other half of Kind Aesthetic, was very excited but admitted to it being out of her comfort zone. That made me stop and realize that it is indeed nerve-wracking to speak in front of a crowd of strangers and meet new people. Therefore, it was imperative that our events be comfortable, productive and friendly.
And that is where the hitch is: don't network just because you want something. We all want things: to be more successful, to make new connections, to be given the things we know we deserve. But no one is going to want to talk to us if we are pushing our weird business cards in each others faces. Desperation stinks.
We are not the only ones who are preaching the value of meeting new like-minded people. According to this article by Ilise Benun, we should network to get the following people into our pool of contacts, whether you are a freelancer, creative type, entrepreneur or artist:
"1. Clients and customers.
2. Peers and colleagues.
4. Referral sources."
And this article by Jessica Hische is hilarious, true, and a good reminder that you can have fun and not be totally creepy while networking. Definitely give both of these articles a read before your next event.
This is a list of what you should bring to your next networking event:
1) A nicely designed business card.
2) A short, memorized, friendly elevator pitch about what you do.
3) A smile, some nice questions to ask people, and a good attitude. No one likes jerks who don't listen.
4) An open mind.
5) A plan to follow-up with your new contacts within a week.
So, why do we force ourselves to network? Because people are actually really amazing, especially artists and creatives. We guarantee that you will meet at least one new person to have a studio visit with, schedule a coffee date with, or open up your mind to a new creative technique. We leave each of our events a bit euphoric because we got to be around an unparalleled amount of energy and interesting stories. We hope it's the same for you. See you on January 24th!