In my weekly Instagram-Live sessions, Pursuit of Creativity, the topic was Networking. And it’s been on my mind ever since, and felt like expanding on it a little more here.
I pointed out 3 fundamentals to networking for any Artist or Creative:
1. Don’t make "connections", Make Friends.
2. Don’t be selfish. Help the other person out.
3. Follow up. It’s the magic ingredient.
You see, I’ve always been an entrepreneur and ever since my time in St. Xavier’s College, have been going to networking events and parties and shows and what not. But guess what, I’m not in touch with a single person from those events now, except for the ones who actually became friends of mine. Why does that matter? Because it’s a crucial learning. I essentially wasted all that time and effort meeting new people, when they didn’t really create any value for me, neither did I for them, and it was all for a super short time.
Whereas, the people who actually helped me and I could help them, became good friends even till now!
What that means is, everyone should go to these events with a curiosity to find smart, fun and interesting people, because those are the ones you will make friends with. All the rest are a waste of your time. Plus if you know one person well in the room, they can always introduce to other 5 possibly. Making it easier for everyone.
Plus it’s a lot more fun to make friends rather than just another visit card in your pocket.
No one likes selfish people who approach for their work. At the same time if someone offers to help on their own, that allows us to put our guard down and accept them with open arms. Because when someone helps, it means they care. And if they care, then they are worth knowing more about or helping them in return.
So the best way to "network" is to help the other person. They’ll remember you. And won’t mind helping you in return.
Here’s the magic ingredient that everyone hates to do. Following up. Most people get caught up in their own head and it’s stories – "Why would they open my message, I’m a nobody", "They are avoiding me, thinking of me as a creep", "They didn’t answer my email once, why would they answer it the next time?" and in some extreme cases, taking it on their ego and dismissing it completely.
Whereas, if you think from the other person’s side – one, they might be busy so responding you might not be a priority. Second, they could’ve forgotten to respond if they wanted to. Third, maybe the email/text wasn’t clear for a response. Fourth, they could’ve gotten into an emergency. Fifth, the email might’ve gotten buried under all the other emails. And I can give you 100s such reasons.
So maybe following up is an act of helping as well.
To remind them gently. To show them that you actually care for their response and that it’s not a random mass email. To understand that they can also make mistakes.
Most of the times, 3-4 followups raise the chances of you getting a reply to 80%. No matter the stature of the person.
So it truly is a magical ingredient for networking. As well as a superpower.
And with superpowers, comes responsibilities. Which is where being a friend helps you.