Saturday, August 23, 2008

Schmoozing or Networking?

From Webster's dictionary :: schmooze: to converse informally : chat; also : to chat in a friendly and persuasive manner especially so as to gain favor, business, or connections

I told my friend that she's a professional schmoozer. I meant it with the best intentions, but I guess she didn't think it was the best compliment. I quickly backed up my assertion with direct evidence -- she is a label relations manager for a streaming music company; she speaks to label reps daily, sometimes going to dinner and/or drinks, and attending concerts. This last week, I had the opportunity to see her in action. As she "worked" the room, she was constantly called out by different people - label reps, coworkers, company partners, musicians, etc. One label rep said enthusiastically that she was "her favorite relationship manager ever!" That says a lot.

I'm so impressed with my friend E's ability to make connections and for lack of a better word, schmooze. I guess it is also called networking, but schmoozing has so much more personality. E also realized after I explained it to her that I didn't mean it in an offensive way, but in all seriousness and honesty, that is what she does, daily. She's clearly made connections and maintained relationships with those who will not only help her in her career track, but also with whom she can assist. It's a symbiotic relationship.

I've learned that I never really took advantage of the whole networking "thing", perhaps to my own detriment at times. I didn't graduate college with fistfuls of referrals or business cards from prospective employers. I was often too shy to put myself in the open and ask the questions I wanted. I didn't make contacts that would put me on the fast track to success. I sort of regret that as I look back.

But I am now moving foward. I want to take advantage of as many opportunities to meet people - photographers, future clients, future friends, anyone - to further my business as well as reciprocate however possible. I want to foster relationships, where I can learn, help, and return favors from others. There's so much to learn from other perople, and so far, I've been met with the utmost kindness from some of the biggest names in the industry. It's so humbling to know how down to earth and grounded these folks are. It makes putting yourself on the line that much easier.

Never in a million years would I think that I would introduce myself to two of the big names in the wedding industry, but I did. I never thought that I would have the courage to message industry giants and become "friends". These little steps nurture my confidence level and push me to do that much more the next time. Introduce myself to five people. Give out ten business cards. Comment on three blogs.

I'm learning from my friend E, the "schmoozer" and taking her example and applying it to my business. I see the importance of networking, and would like to make the most of it with each opportunity!

1 comment:

Lydia said...

That's one thing I've been working on too. Like you said, it's more than trying to get to know people in order to help you. It's about truly caring for others. Being a Lovecat, as they like to say.