An unlikely connection
Networking is one of the great buzzwords of our time- and one that a lot of people cringe pretty hard at. It brings to mind images of people standing around awkwardly exchanging small talk. Quite reminiscent of a stock photo scene... and doesn't that just make you want to engage in it all the more! No, me either.
But networking, when done right, doesn't need to be like this. In fact, it can be highly beneficial and produce lots of potential for collaborations and new opportunities.
Most of the time we attribute networking to stuffy corporate events- the kind where everyone gets a badge with their name on it and there are allocated times to chat with your fellow attendees.
And these quite often do result in good connections (I've personally made a lot of useful connections with adjacent industries from events like these) but I've found the best relationships, the ones that produce strong collaborations, are born out of emotion. And emotion is not strictly limited to the conference table.
Volunteering at all kinds of events has been my largest and most emotionally relevant source of building connection with people as we are all there for similar reasons- we love and support what the organisation is doing, we enjoy the work, and we want to lay down some roots with the surrounding people. Instead of plunging myself into a situation where I take a few sips of beer and try and articulate my job and what I'm aiming to achieve in life to someone, I put myself in the actual situation I'd like to be in and let my love for it do all the work.
From this technique I've built up a solid and ever expanding base of people who I connect with on both an emotional and work level which has allowed for many mutually beneficial collaborations to spark and contract opportunities to occur as a result.
This type of scenario has also happened to me with team sports, at bars and all sorts of unlikely places. The point is you need to keep an open mind and embrace the idea of connecting with people outside of the events you'd typically place yourself at. You'll find by doing this that you'll widen your idea of who it is you think you need to meet and expand your circle of contacts to include a whole list of people who can offer you information and insights into many different things, broadening your perspective.
These sorts of events expand across all industries. We're holding our first big Thrive workshops in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne very soon which will be great opportunities to connect and grow your network. Whatever you do to grow your connections, you can't simply do it behind a computer. Ultimately, you have to be in the room.
At the core of all this fluff is the message to keep your eyes open for opportunity. You never know how someone may be able to help- an unlikely connection can bring around incredible change (just ask us for our stories on this!) And that may be just what we need.
And if you want to dispose of “networking” as a term feel free to. It can certainly feel “cold”. Think about it as simply having more conversations. Being focused on making more connections, and opening yourself up to the possibilities that it creates. For us at Beyond Billables our entire business has been built on conversations. Think about how simply having more of them can positively impact your career and life.