Networking is about friendships
I used to envision networking as a bunch of people dressed in power suits shaking hands. I imagined going to an event, meeting people from all the big companies of my naive dreams: Google, Facebook, etc. The world would be mine simply because I put on makeup that day and said hello.
Thankfully, I got a reality check when my first meetup combined gobbling a cookie and talking with a UX student. It was my first introduction to actual networking.
Since then, it’s happened many times completely by chance.
Internships, jobs, friend-of-a-friend, meetups, interviews, social media conversations, and yes — even on planes. I’m one of those annoying people that patiently hopes you’ll be up for talking about yourself the next two hours of the flight.
I’ve noticed people in tech gather around their passions, which is why networking feels natural. “Wow, you love that design research book, too? We have to meet up for some artisanal coffee.”
At the end of the day, building a network is about friendships. You’re going to get along with some people, and not with others. And that’s okay.
It’s not about suits, prestige, competition or using How to Win Friends and Influence People techniques.
I’d love to hear about other perspectives and critiques on networking. If you have something to share, look me up on Twitter and let’s have a chat!