You never know who's looking over your shoulder
from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here)
How do you celebrate your birthday? For mine this year, I gathered together a great group of friends in a cozy pub and we all tucked into delicious American diner-style food. Unsurprisingly, for those who know me, there were several conversations on the subject of networking. One person - an experienced networker I might add, commented on how she now very rarely attends networking events nor "goes networking." Fair enough; once you have a strong base, you typically meet people through your existing network.
So, you already have a network – great! What you should still do, though, is be open to the unexpected opportunities.
In my formative years as an art dealer, I experienced random networking firsthand - on my birthday, as it so happens. Travelling home on the tube from the opening of an art fair, I pulled out an artist biography. A man sitting nearby came over and talked to me a few minutes into the journey, as he had collected work by the very artist about whom I was reading. This led to an excellent conversation and a business card exchange. Fast forward several years, and he'd become not only a collector of the gallery but also a friend.
A case in point is when I recently went to New York and turned to my Facebook friends for introductions to a specific type of professional. A completely superb introduction ensued. After receiving an introductory email, it required that I take action by following-up.
Another topic in the birthday networking conversation was what to do when on holiday. One person swore by not taking cards when on vacation or taking time off. I beg to differ. People who are in a relaxed state are more likely to be able and open to have a long and fulfilling conversation (this means you too). Being out of work mode can result in being open to conversational discovery.
And thus, always have a few business cards at all times, or at least having a way to give and receive details. I for one have been known to hand over the iPhone for a new contact to type in their details. If you’re not a smartphone person, it's a good reason reasons to carry a pen and paper at all times.
Whose to say that you won't meet people in the most random of locations? On the chance that you do, why not be open to the possibility and have an accessible supply of business cards?
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