I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’
Oh wait, that’s from Network (1976). I have a feeling that what we’re talking about this week is not that film, or the act of connecting electronic devices with the use of a router, but the practice of connecting with other people for personal and/or professional benefit.
So let me step out of my movie guy role for a moment to share some tips about the social and professional type of networking. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, with some very satisfying results.
1.Get involved with an organization that’s doing work that’s meaningful to you. I’m involved with GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (glaad.org), on their San Francisco Leadership Council and as Marketing Chair for the GLAAD Media Awards.
GLAAD’s work with media advocacy is a natural fit with my other pursuits as playwright/screenwriter and arts journalist, but more importantly, this work gets me out there meeting like-minded people on a regular basis. (Writing this blog is a direct result of one of the many friendships I’ve made through GLAAD.)
2.Say yes. Accept invitations to as many social, community or networking events as your schedule permits. Don’t be afraid to show up alone at an event where you’re not sure if you know anyone. Staying in and catching up on your DVR-recorded TV shows may be tempting, but I’ve never been to an event where I didn’t meet at least three new people, and was glad I came.
3. Give first. When meeting people at social or networking events, focus on how you can help them, or who you know that they should meet, rather than focusing on how they can help you. This is the opposite of being the dive-bombing self-promoter that most of us have a natural instinct to avoid. The benefits of giving first will come back to you in unexpected ways. Karma works. So let it.
4.Keep in touch. Business cards. Facebook. Get ‘em and use ‘em. Add new people as Facebook friends as soon as possible after you’ve met them (while you both remember each other) with a friendly note and a promise to keep in touch. The ability to sort Facebook friends into different lists can be very helpful in managing your friends and business contacts.
5.Keep it clean and don’t vent online. There’s nothing wrong with including both friends and business contacts as Facebook friends. But just as college students have lost potential jobs by posting photos of themselves binge-drinking or sitting on the toilet on Facebook, remember that everyone can see everything.
Regardless of how annoyed you might be with a specific person, or the world in general, don’t vent your anger on Facebook. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say in person to all of your social and business contacts.
Even if you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore!