Late last week, my manager and I were brainstorming ideas for a prospective client when I stopped to ask her how we got this opportunity. Why were we getting this chance to pitch ideas to this specific company? She told me that our CEO, Clare, has all these contacts - politicians, best-selling authors, or executives of companies that are household names. A good number of our contracts start with a relationship Clare has built. My manager, half-jokingly, called this supernetworking; it's like the networking you or I do, but with famous people and executives.
The core of this, though, is still just the process of building a relationship. In the short two weeks I've interned here, Clare has instructed multiple times that 'We're all not that different." It's something I've heard before, but seeing that philosophy in action is helping to drive it home for me. We may tend to see a person's gender or notice their race or hear their accent and react in a way that's almost scheduled, but I don't think that's necessary.
When I first meet people, I usually follow a certain protocol until I've built up enough of a rapport to the point where I can show a little more personality. This has served me pretty well up until now. Its helped me to mix with people I might not otherwise have gotten to know, but it can also be alienating.
Networking with companies or employers can be very intimidating because they usually have all the power in the relationship. Career Fairs are the best example of this dynamic: a handful of companies wait around for huge swarms of students to hurriedly make a impression so their resume won't be immediately thrown in the trash. You stuff one more mass-produced business card in your pocket and you move down the line. Nobody behaves genuinely until you all leave the gymnasium and stop walking on egg shells with people you don't even know.
Remembering that each of us isn't so different as to deserve that instant bubble around them is something I want to start doing. It's a more human way to interact with people whether it's in our daily lives, networking, or even SUPERnetworking.