Relationships vs. Networking

Photo Credit: Freelancers Union via cc
Josh McHugh is an actor living and working in Los Angeles.

He writes a blog about “The trials, musings and shenanigans of a working actor…” – Josh McHugh, He Acts

His writing is thoughtful, insightful and we are delighted to be sharing it here on Actor Hub.
Yup. I pretty much suck at it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting new people, making connections, all that sort of thing. I have caught myself talking for hours with folks I have met at parties and by the end of it, we’re like old friends! Old friends who didn’t catch one another’s names.
I can handle that. We will most likely bump into one another again some day, repeat the exercise and more than likely correct the faux-pas of our last encounter. Eventually, we’ll get a chance to work together, realise we make a great team, and a relationship is born.
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.
Keith Ferrazzi
We made a connection before we realised we needed something from one another.
That human interaction can’t be replaced.
My career, such as it is, has been built nicely from these chance meetings.
But, here I sit, staring at my screen, utterly confounded.
I have the power of the mighty digital age at my fingertips. “Social Media” has granted me an entirely new way of connecting and remaining connected to my fellow man. I should feel drunk with possibilities! I don’t.
The problem I encounter on line is the same as walking into a room full of strangers at some networking event. I am going with expectations. I know why everyone is there. I have a rough idea of what they do for a living. They have something I want. They know it.
What chance does small talk have in such an environment? I feel like a beggar stumbling up to you and I haven’t even asked for spare change yet.
Eventually, I digitally “chicken out”. I become that awkward kid who doesn’t know how to play a game the cool kids are playing. So I just sit and watch, sipping on a juice-box until I can go home.
As a result, I have become something I never thought I would:
I am a collector.
The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozer’s are good listeners, not good talkers.
Guy Kawasaki
I have connected with hundreds of folks on various social media sites. I search for them, I see the kind of work they do, I request a connection. More often that not, they accept. Awesome!
They never hear from me again.
It feels more like digital stalking than networking.
Don’t get me wrong! I am not a stalker…(wow, that sounds like exactly the kind of thing a stalker would say…) No! I am genuinely interested in learning about what they do, what kind of person they must be like. And, yes, if we might be of some help to one another. But social media to me often feels like the mutual acquaintance at that networking party who burps our names at one another and staggers away, leaving us in eerie silence, looking at our respective patches of floor.
How miserable.
We don’t want to build a network. There are plenty of websites than can do that.
We want to build relationships.
Those are the ones that last.