I've got networking on the brain. Despite increasingly digital interfacing, personal connections still rule, so here we are. Of course, everyone uses the word "networking," and whether you're looking for work or not, having a network to leverage - for whatever - is a very good thing.
Last post, I mentioned the contact cards that emerging professionals were handing around at ASLA. I was so impressed with the savvy students and recent grads I met! People at ASLA's national conference (waaay back last fall) were chatting in the lines for coffee, beer, books, vendor tables, and in the lecture halls.
Everywhere you looked were people who were likely interested in something you liked too. Anywhere at a conference you can be standing near someone, read their name-tag, say something (anything, really), and find something to talk about. Congrats. You’re networking.
EXCEPT.... if you leave that conversation not knowing who you were talking to, they don't have any idea who you are, and neither of you has a reason to follow-up with the other. Now you're just chatting-up a stranger. No congrats for you.
So when you meet new people, networking is all about starting a conversation that will go beyond that initial contact. You need to find out whether you can benefit that person or they can benefit you....
OOH! Did you see that? The best kept secret of networking? It is right there....find out if there's some way that YOU can benefit THEM. Don’t have anything to say? Check out this article from Entrepreneur.com on the right questions to ask and how to ask them.
I’ll be spending the next few posts on networking for landscape architects. I’ll look at places to network, people to network with, and the reasons we network. I'll even try to convince you networking haters that it ain't that bad, so sit back and get comfortable...then get out there! As always, if you have specific questions or ideas, comment here.