I’ll level a bit here. A lot of people talk about the importance of keeping contacts, address books, business cards and networking.
Personally, I hate networking. I find it painful and the only redeeming feature is that it usually takes place at a locale offering alcohol. Maybe I’m just shy when I’m not wearing my journo cap and I definitely liven up after a drink or two (I’m a cheap date). I’m also bad with business cards – I just got my first batch ever. I’ve handed ‘em out like they’re candy when I remember, but I don’t remember often.
Personally though, I’ve never found maintaining contacts to be difficult. Though, I’ve never really thought or approached things as ‘making and keeping contacts’.
I think we journo lot tend to be either pretty outgoing, chatty and conversational. Or I think we can be awkward as sin, something straight out of a Woody Allen movie and with the social panache of rock. I’m of the former, I think.
When it comes to networking and making contacts, I tend to be myself. For awhile I tried to be the chatty type, but to be honest, it was an embarassment and not a very good representation of myself.
There is an extreme importance of making connections in this business – really you are who you know to some extent. It’s a truth I’ll begrudgeonly acknowledge.
I can’t say my style and approach would work for everyone, hell it might only work for me, but I tend to ignore that truth. I don’t really care about contacts, networking and the like.
This isn’t a rant about how my work speaks for itself, I promise. It’s more of the fact that I tend to approach networking as an opportunity to make new friends. I think of all the contacts I’ve gained over the past few years – the ones I keep in touch with are not because I’m looking for an opportunity. I keep in touch with these people because I consider them to be people I respect, look up to and admire. I consider them to be friends, confidants and sometimes even role models.
I can only hope they feel the same about me, at least as far as the friend thing goes. I’m not exactly role model material.
Contact-building and networking to me is not about collecting business cars like they are Pokemon, but more meeting people, finding who you trust, who you get on with and who is someone that will stick with you for years to come.
For me, less is more when it comes to so-called contacts. Keeping in touch should not be forced, but a natural demonstration of friendship.
Photo courtesy of That English Chap
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