Creative Networking Advice, From One Student to Another

I never would have thought I'd be giving networking advice, because on paper, I'm the type of person who would be a failure at it: I'm very introverted, I avoid trying to meet new people, and do I even need to mention that I'm shy and awkward?

But I recently had heard from someone that the people who were the worst at doing something were the best at understanding it precisely because they didn't immediately understand it. And looking back, that's what I've been trying to do all along. At some point in 2016, I had to face the uncomfortable fact that being good with people was important.

So I started to try. It was slow, and I never really knew what I was doing, but what mattered was that I kept trying. But then in February of 2018, I met up with someone who put me in contact with someone else, and after a chat with that person, I ended up being able to do a hand-lettering workshop in one of the most famous design firms in the world, IDEO Shanghai.

That was so insane and something I never would have dreamed of happening. I've always stubbornly tried to reject the saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Good work will always win out, right? But once I started college, I thought about how everyone in every other prestigious design school out there would graduate with the same skills, but only a few of those are people that would be covered on a famous blog or get big-name clients, and that was when it finally clicked. It doesn't really matter who you know, but rather, it's really, really important who knows you (remember the workshop?).

And I'm still figuring things out as I go, but when I had a conversation about networking that lasted for two hours, it hit me that I knew enough to compile a blog post. I know one reason why I avoided this sort of thing before was because the most popular articles on networking are so business-y and icky, so here's something hopefully more friendly.

Picking a person

If you're not sure if someone that you know can help you with what you want, try to find out if they can recommend you to someone else who could help you. If you're in a university, take advantage of your professors or career services, or even your own classmates! Or if you're in an internship, your bosses are a great place to start. Ask for their tips on starting out, ask for what they look for on how they hire, and whatever else you might want to know.

I had this fantastic roommate who was a senior, and I knew she was looking for jobs, but I realized one day that I couldn't help pass jobs along her way because I had no idea what kind of work she wanted. She had never told me that she wanted web design work, so I had read plenty of job opportunities without thinking it would be perfect for her.

Sending that email

The meeting itself

Tips for getting started

But that said, it gets the job done every single time. I get used to the idea of approaching the person, and it's hard to chicken out when I've been keeping count of how many times I've seen the person.

Let me know what you think!

I'm still trying and learning, but it's been objectively one of the best things I could do to help myself. I seriously hope this gets you started, and I'd really love to know what you think of it. No comments yet (I'm still deciding if I want to use Disqus), so send me a DM on Instagram!