Networking sounds like a dirty and used term.
A friend of mine from college once said he “didn’t want to be in a profession/job where part of his description was to …*shudder* Network.” It’s easy to understand where he’s coming from. He further elaborated to say that “we’re meeting people, so we can use them later.” That rang irritatingly true after way too many Chamber of Commerce mixers. After a while, you realize it’s the same people handing you the same cards and when they realize they have no use for you, they move on. It’s VERY tedious.
When I heard about the Silicon Valley TweetUp, I was interested for many reasons:
and finally (and this one is important)
A TweetUp, in basic definition, is where people in the Twitter community all spread the word to meet up and a place and time; It’s a chance to foster/maintain real relationships out of the digital ones, which is what most Social Media skeptics like to complain about.
This one in particular was paired with a book signing (Shel Israel’s Twitterville), a fundraiser (a school in Tanzania, a partnership with Epic Change), and many sponsors, including some raffles and other drawings going on.
Despite the soaked roads and tornado warning (really?) there was a fulfilling turnout at Hotel Valencia in Santana Row.
One sticky name tag (with my twitter handle written on it) and a donation later, I was in the sleek and intimate atmosphere and free to roam.
There was moderate food (never got to that part, which makes me wonder how the people I serve at Gordon Biersch at private cocktail parties can wolf down as much as they do) and a bar drink were provided.
I had no idea what to expect, but I didn’t get more than eight deviated steps from the people I came with before running into a group of people who were friendly, personable and as interested as they were interesting.
And nobody is saying “You got a boyfriend?” or “need a home loan?”
Over the course of two hours, I met people full of energy and inspiration, people who had “heard about it” from someone else, the owner of a cool start up, women who were there to “meet people,” people who I already knew, people who knew people I already knew, a freelancer, the unemployed, the self-employed, the college student who couldn’t wait to BE employed…pretty interesting stuff.
Genuinely though, there was a stark difference here from all the networking things I had attended in the past (and hated):
Everyone just wanted to be there.
And that feels pretty good.
Prep: To prepare for my first TweetUp ever, I wanted to at least have something on me in case I met people I wanted to keep in contact with.
I’m always insistant that it never hurts to have your own card. Just you. One WITHOUT your company logo, with basic contact info, because you have your own interests and your job is not your identity.
For a TweetUp though, I printed these out on basic card stock (60 for $1.54 at Kinkos) with just my Twitter handle and a title underneath it to jog the memory of people whose name it was they ended up with in their mix of stuff.
I figure at one point or another, somebody would ask me what I do and one of those two things would be bound to come up. Also, I still dislike The Business Card. Too much stuff on it. It’s 2010, everyone can get in contact with everyone in a number of methods and search processes. This is ideal, especially for the crowd at hand. Done and done.
Execute: Seamless, because when I got home, the ones I gave out equaled the number of people who got in contact with me post-tweetup.
Why i love it: When I got home, I had a stack of business cards that I had to search first name/last name to connect with them. All of them.
What was really great about the TweetUp: At one point, many were gathered in one room to hear @britopian talk about how much was raised (over $2300) for the school in Tanzania and all I could do was look around and marvel about how all this came to fruition because of, essentially, ONE tweet.
One little message that grew exponentially.
I plan on attending the next one and continuing to explore the world, one person at a time.
I had an interview yesterday with a high tech pr company; thanks to a heads up from a college friend and being at my computer when I got her text, my resume was sent in within minutes and interview scheduled immediately.
What I did to prep:
Interviewed for an hour and a half, in 30 minute intervals; but not before sitting down in the beginning to realize that my sweater and the folder holding my resumes all matched, which is weird because I NEVER wear purple.
Managed to consume an ENTIRE bottle of water during the course of all the interviews so that when I left, I REALLY had to use the restroom.
Left my coat at the place of interview.
Lost HORRIFICALLY at Scrabble because Sam is a genius.
Realized I left my coat at place of interview (…4 hours later?) and contacted previously stated college friend to grab it from the conference room so I (sheepishly) can get it from her later.
HOWEVER; walking away I will say that I did the best I knew how with the tools and skills I knew and should the company choose to go with another candidate, I would rest easy knowing that it was because they found someone with a more advanced skill set, and NOT because of my interview.
I went in and walked out with my confidence all in tact.
So now all we do is wait.
What has been most helpful in this process is knowing someone who was* a recruiter for 3 years who can look at everything you’re doing and say “do it better.”
After revamping my resume and realizing in a sickeningly constant stream that there were so many things I was leaving out, I wonder what ELSE I’m leaving out entirely. You know those e-mails you send sometimes where you reread it many times over, to make sure it still sounds the same….and then there are the ones that you don’t even let yourself reread because you don’t want to catch a mistake or see something that you definitely can’t change now. All of the above applies.
And at this point, I still have “nothing to show for it.”
But don’t I though?
I can look back and cringe at the picture of me, Freshman year of high school, wearing a very bad vest**. Of COURSE I thought it was cool. I know never to do that again. Yeesh.
Jonathan Hirshon, of Horizon Communications, told a group of students at a panel discussion that “You’re allowed to make mistakes; I won’t fire you for making a mistake. I allow you to make one. After two, it means you didn’t learn.” (I’m paraphrasing from almost 3 years ago but the general point is there and I would imagine he’d probably nod and say “yeah, something like that.”
When I look back and look at my resume from years ago up until recently, I cringe at my lack of attention to detail that I didn’t know to have then. And yes, it all DOES matter. At least, that’s what they tell ya.
I cringed this morning when I consulted my trusty AP style book (after arguing with myself) and realized it’s “Adviser, not Advisor”
Me- “Is this the reason the world hates me? Is this the reason I can’t get a job? Is this the reason I didn’t get THAT job? It’s not even like a your/you’re to/too/two thing! *sigh* ….yes. I understand.-
“I’ll do it better.”
*I stress “was” because he now works in the sports industry
** It was black, with tiny brown and white flowers all over it. 3 or 4 pearl buttons. Very flowy.
It’s a book, on the bottom shelf of my bookcase, titled “Life’s Little Handbook of Wisdom: Over 500 Winning Ways to Live Life to the Fullest.“ It’s a shrunken, 99 cent paperback, with plenty of off-white space on the pages to separate quotes, each no more than a sentence long. Five to a page, broken up by the occasional one in 28 pt. font that got a whole page to itself.
Flashback to how I got it: It was a gift from a pal when I was in high school; 15 years old and pleased that someone was so thoughtful.
I thumbed through it and noticed something that I had highlighted a few quotes throughout the book. Not a lot. But a few.
What a gift! A present from the past; the last time I got something like this was when my senior English teacher from high school mailed me a letter from my 17 year-old self, 5 years later (which prompted me to quit my full-time job at the time in favor of finally finishing my degree).
Over the years, life revealed things that never would’ve occurred to me to seek out. I stumbled into improv because a junior college theater professor told me I wasn’t that great at acting. I never looked back; I reveled in a world called improv where anything was possible and by simply being positive, you could find yourself in a whirlwind of possibilities…on stage and in life.
From that point until where we are now, I had naturally attributed my current attitude and position on life to learning improv, in 2001, when I was 19. I am even willing to admit that I remember very little about my personality before I started doing this thing called improv. A lot of my reasoning for being so attracted to the PR field and to many other facets of my current lifestyle were based in the same things that attract me to improv.
Flash forward to now: 27, cleaning my house and realizing I continue to pack, unpack, re-pack, unpack and re-shelve this mini-book, for no valid explanation other than “*shrug*…you can’t just throw a book away.” (unless it’s a math book…yeesh.)
Current situation: Waitress/Bartender at a downtown brewery, doing PR work for ComedySportz with no one to teach me but Google, and so mean and negative about 7 months of fruitless job hunting. Tired of hearing “it’s the economy” and sick of hearing about everyone else’s success. Ashamed to have my degree with nothing to show for it and pissed I still don’t have my “JOB job.” ( I refuse to call things “real” jobs. I currently don’t make fake money or pay fake bills, so I don’t see the reasoning other than to put down an industry that keeps many living and financially afloat.)
So *scoff* let’s look and see what 15 year-old Courtney Pong thought was “important” and the “key to living life.”
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Be nice to the people who serve you.
Look on the bright side.
Laugh at yourself; laugh with others.
There are those who dream, those who do and those who do both. Join the third group.
Don’t let your dreams die.
Suppress neither sneezes nor laughter.
Have a ready smile and a firm handshake.
Our five senses are incomplete without the sixth - a sense of humor.
Now, they’re pretty generic. Stuff you’d see stitched in a pillow, right? But when you’re 15, they’re profound, like pop songs.
But more importantly…the theme when I was 15 was to laugh. To make others laugh. To keep laughing. (and to dream big, but that’s not the focus right now)
How could I have possibly known that I would end up making that a life choice and continue it professionally? I didn’t start improv because I was seeking it out. I ended up in it and ran with it.
Which brings us to a very intresting now - what a call to action. What a perfectly timed reminder, in the midst of all the jaded mumblings and jealous side comments, that at the heart of it all, is that original person.
You just have to find it.
And remember why you started all this in the first place.