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Editor’s note: I’m trying this thing where I write long-form personal articles to be published over the weekend. It’s important to me to know how to organize thoughts through written word and this project is me practicing out loud. It’s a big leap to share like this for me so I very much appreciate you reading!
You know those people who can talk to anyone and can consistently hook relevant people together? I know a few and am so grateful for their naturally chatty attitudes. Since starting to freelance my network has been at the top of my mind. I’ve found that the contacts I make through referrals are more strong and more likely to have a positive result than cold emails and replying to job boards. Having someone personally connect me to a potential job is the the quickest way to gain and actionable lead. So it’s been tough, these past few months, to realize that my network is smaller than I thought. Reflection has shown that I’m not good at gaining new contacts and following through on growing new relationships.
To fix this I’ve being to learn how to take networking opportunities more seriously. I recognize that I need to meet new people and there are many events and gatherings in Portland that I can take advantage of.
But it’s scary! Starting a conversation with a new person is not in my introverted nature. It takes me a while to warm up to new folks. That’s why I’m so grateful to natural connectors: they’re able to ask the right questions to keep a conversation going, so I have time to open up.
Comedian John Mulaney does a great job of illustrating my second biggest issue with networking: getting out of the house can be tough. Especially during rainy Portland springs! After a long day of working (or playing!) the last thing I usually want to do is go out, meet new people, and exhaust my remaining energy reserves making conversations. To help me get through I have a few personal rules when attending networking events:
- Introduce myself to at least five new people
- Hand out at least three business cards
- Collect at least three business cards
That’s it! Then I can go home. It seems simplistic, and to be honest I’m a bit embarrassed to even share, but knowing I have goals to meet makes it way easier to venture out into the dark and unknown.
How do you network? Got any tips for this networking newbie?