I really don't want to sully this article with the "n" word - it's such a dirty word; it's vulgar and intimidating - but in the context of this creative condition, it softens... So let's talk "networking". Because, if only I knew I was going to meet you, I would have started networking long ago.
Once you've recovered from the shock of hearing the "n" word thrown about so loosely, let's talk about it, acclimatise you to it. The more you talk about it - just like the more you do it - the more you can appreciate what it could mean for you. What does networking mean for you? As an individual or as a business? Is it hours of uncomfortable small talk with strangers? Or is it checking your phone in an attempt to look busy, hoping an assertive stranger won't come and speak to you (at least you could say that you were there?) (Yes, I have been caught in this compromising position!)
It doesn't have to be like that. You meet people all the time; you network all the time - with friends and colleagues, even down at your favourite coffee shop or in the pub. It's not about conquering, making a sale or even doing business... it's about showing interest and engaging the people around you; from there, you never know what might happen. I didn’t know, and good things happened.
The 23rd of May was a very good day
The 23rd of May 2013 was the day of the first Creative & Corporate Love I attended, which was also the first Creative Edinburgh event I enjoyed. It was also where I met one of my first clients. The friendly folk that make up the Creative Edinburgh team - once Janine and Lynsey, and now including our sweet Sean - have created a pretty awesome programme of events, most of which I’ve had the pleasure of attending over the last 20 months. The events attract the wonderful and talented, people that are so passionate about what they do they make it their professional practice and creative business.
So relaxed and at ease am I around these people and in this environment – thrown in with a bit of awe – that the experience is enjoyable. It puts me in the right mood to be open to these new connections and develop existing ones, so much so that I have had a number of follow-up meetings intended to allow the other person and me to interact in a quieter environment, get to know each other better, and to discuss potential opportunities with each other and for others in our network. Does this sound a bit like dating, well, perhaps it is, without all the awkward end of the date, “I’ll call you” malarkey.
Oh, yes, I was reminiscing about my first Creative and Corporate Love. I met one of my first there and we are still working together. I have since met several leads – two of which I’m currently in discussions with for potential work: one a branding and marketing agency and the other a digital and online marketing agency. On a slightly different pipeline of work (and one that is an exciting achievement for me), I successfully connected two of my contacts: a film director and a digital creative and they are currently completing a job.
Taking a more light-hearted slant on making new connections, I found a truly awesome instructor and friend to go rock climbing with. It was my first time and she was helpful and patient. What an experience! Lastly but most importantly are the inspiring and trustworthy people I have met. People I now call my friends; fellow foodies, people to dine with, have a coffee or cocktail with or a friendly face that welcomes me at an event… I found a place where everybody knows my name. I’ll stop quoting Cheers, but honestly, it’s a bit like that “making your way in the world today / takes everything you’ve got,” but it doesn’t have to be a challenge when you’ve got the right people around you.
We make of it what we like
If you’re open to it, you can make connections with people that can make a real difference in your professional and personal lives. Networking doesn't have to be about business. Be open to embracing the "n" word. If you're not, find some other way to describe this activity that makes it less daunting. Is it mingling with other makers? Or maybe you prefer it to conspire with creatives. Whatever you make of it, make it what you want it to be.
If you haven’t made it along to a Creative Edinburgh event yet, check out the programme of events; there are events to suit every style. In the meantime, make a note of what you’d hope to take away from an event, who you’d like to meet or will you enjoy it most if it’s an opportunity to learn something new. The Creative & Corporate Love and Glug events are excellent opportunities to maximise on the time to hear about other people’s experiences. So is there anything you’d like to learn or hear about most? Leave a message with your thoughts below or get in touch with Janine or Sean.
I hope to see you soon at an event soon. I’d love to meet you!