Don’t let smart-ass cool people scare the shit out of you by making you believe that if you are not small-talking and drinking beer with everyone all the time, you won’t make it. That’s a lie.
Everyone talks about networking. Sometimes you might get the impression that you will never get any job, not even the most regular one, if you don’t have a huge network.
I have always been quite shy, and never been very focused on getting a lot of friends and contacts. When heading towards a career in the cultural sector, this has sometimes made me think: how can I reach my goals if I am not able to get the right contacts?
Networking is most often presented as “drinking beer with the cool people”, e.g. to have many friends and social connections. Not everyone is comfortable with, or interested in, many social connections and hate the popular idea of networking. Do you recognize these feelings? Here are some of my experiences:
1. Forget the word “networking”
A network is something you have, something you can use, and something that grows during your life. If you don’t like the idea of it being an activity, you don’t need to think of it that way.
2. You don’t need more friends, you need someone that knows that you can work.
The best contacts you get are those who know that you can work. Don’t think about networking, think about getting out there and to do something. Be curious and enthusiastic, participate, then you don’t need to do anything to get the connections, they will come automatically.
3. Keep calm, when you need contacts, you can get them
If you don’t have a project, it is very difficult to get contacts, because you don’t actually need them. If you hate networking, don’t think about the contacts you might need some time in the future, think about those you need right now.
4. When you have a project and a “job identity,” it is much more easy to contact people.
When I wrote my master’s thesis I started a blog. When I had handed in the thesis, I continued working on the blog. The blog gave me a title, a kind of identity. I was a blogger, a writer. Even though I was unemployed, I worked in the museum field because I wrote about it. I did not feel like a job seeker, I felt like a journalist, and that made me unafraid of contacting people.
5. Do something for your field
Last fall I did something that turned out to be very smart. I invited people in the museum field to write blogposts, on my blog or their own, as a warm up for a conference about museums, arts and archive. I did it because it was something I wanted to do, not because I understood how much it would extend my network. But the result was that I gave others the opportunity to show off themselves, and at the same time as I got a reason for contacting many interesting people. It was a win-win situation where everyone got more attention. And the best of all, a lot of interesting texts about museums and art was produced.
- Just keep up your good work. Focus on quality. Do what you love to do.
- Keep calm, trust that when you have a reason to contact people, it will feel natural. Don’t be afraid to contact people when you need to.
- Don’t let smart-ass cool people scare the shit out of you when they try to make you believe that if you are not small-talking and drinking beer with everyone all the time, you won’t make it. That’s a lie.
- Do something positive for the field you want to enter.