So I feel the need to talk about networking. You know, I recently did Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) and a lot of people go in thinking “Well it’s a great show to network at, I don’t know how to network, aaaah” and really there are two schools of thought to it but ONLY ONE that works. There are some people that think “networking” means to go back and forth between any group you think will be an advantage to you, or your career. It’s raw opportunistic hunting. It may look like it can work out for you, but it 100% doesn’t. See, everyone knows who that person is, and that they will only be your friend for exactly as long as they think you are of value to them. No one will tell them that person to their face that we all know what they’re doing. But creators all talk, and names come up.
You can’t brute force networking. Hell, you can’t even gentle nudge networking. Because networking is a lie. What you want to do, what you NEED TO DO TO SURVIVE as a person and as a creative is to make friends. You find people and you make friends. Not because they may be of use, but because you like them and have similar interests. You widen your friendbase – just because having friends is important in life – and then you keep up with them. And yes that can be hard BUT we all know it is hard. Still, you try to reach out to them, see how they are when you can. Just a short email, or DM. Check in on your friends. They will check in on you.
And that’s it. You MAKE FRIENDS. Because let me tell you 90% of the doors that have been opened for me are because I had a friend who thought of me when they needed something. Often these are friends I’ve had for years. There’s comfort there, a relationship built on time and trust. A friendship.
Will it get you THE JOB? No, your skill does that. No one hires a friend who can’t do the work. But a friend can help you LEARN the job you might eventually get. And you HELP THEM. If it is one sided it isn’t a friendship, try again.
So go out and make friends. Talk to people, widen your social circle. It can be slow, It can be awkward. But without relationships you will be lonely and with them you will have a group of friends at your back at different levels of closeness to help support you, to become a NETWORK. And look at that – you networked! And better yet YOU HAVE NEW FRIENDS! Maybe most of them never have work for you – so what? Friends! Friends are awesome!
But to those of you who still shark in the water: We know who you are, and wish you would just settle down and make real friends. We get it. We know why you do it. But it’s icky, and everyone wishes you would stop. So stop, and make friends and be happy, not an unsatisfied flitterer.
(this post originally appeared on adampknave.com)