Earlier this week @maxspsound pinged me to tell me he was in town and we should get together.
What started as a simple “hey what are you up to this week?” eventually ballooned into me +14 total strangers at a sushi restaurant that was ill-prepared for our presence because I’d readied them for only 10. Plus somehow my reservation didn’t get through.
Think about that for a second. Does meeting 14 strangers (except for some internet conversations) and a completely ill-prepared dinner sound like something you’d be really excited to get out of the house for?
Probably not. But maybe sometimes, it should be.
Anyone who has made a living from audio will tell you that “the game” isn’t just about what you know, but also who you know. “Networking” is a word met with disdain and revile, conjuring up images of business cards, fake interest, and fake smiles.
That’s essentially what I walked myself into last night – a typical “newbie networking” scenario. I apparently had a small reputation with some people because I share my thoughts online – but most everyone else was a stranger to me.
But what made it so much fun was the opportunity to listen to others.
That is precisely the mistake most people make with “networking” too.
Last night I learned some of the background stories of 5 people I’d never met in the flesh – some of whom I didn’t even know existed. The stories ranged from “I’ve literally only done audio for second, sorry I’m so bad at this” to “I’m a freelancer making a crazy living” and “I work for a major audio company and it’s fantastic”. But to me, all different and new perspectives.
Plus I walked away with a handful of new friends. Some of them probably don’t consider me friends yet, pull I’ll be happy to walk up to them next time I see them and be excited to be in their presence again.
I built a relationship with one of my favorite friends in the industry literally this same way. One night at a casual meetup I wound up at a table 1-on-1 with @soundeziner and literally just said “so tell me your story”.
About an hour or so later, I knew the major points of his professional journey and the personal beats that affected all of it. I knew Andy had a big heart from a distance, but he allowed me to learn why and at a super personal level.
This is something you can literally do next time you’re in a casual meetup situation. When you find someone you’re interested in, go “you know, you’re a really rad person and you’ve clearly done some cool things – I’d love to hear your story, like… how you got to this point”.
You may be met with awkwardness at first, but then you’ll get a huge gift.
Plus, if you’re looking for work, this is the first step you have to cross.
Someone has to know you exist, like you, and then trust you to do business with you. Whether that’s buying something, or giving a referral. In the case of audio people meeting audio, you’re hoping someone has too much work and they’ll refer a client to you.
When you take the time to genuinely learn about someone else, you’re building those three things up at the same time.
In my case, I’m just super happy to hear the stories of others and share in their experience. Once you can sustain your living, you simply have a lot to learn about humanity, your life, and others just by listening to strangers.
So I encourage you, my fellow introvert. I had a blast, made some really great new friends, and learned a lot about myself and others.
I promise you’ll gain so much out of it if you’re willing to do the same.
Copyright 2016-2017, Adam T. Croft, all rights reserved.