We Need a New Word for Networking

October 5, 2012

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Right on the heels of Mighty Summit I was invited by Promise Tangeman and Alyssa Yuhas to hang out in Palm Springs with the two of them and a turnout of what ended up being 20 other freelance designers to soak up some sun, talk shop and chill out.

I started the weekend out trying not to let my insecurities get the best of me. I was hanging out with some hot-shit bloggers and big-deal designers – some of whom I’ve admired for a long time. They’ve got devoted fans, metrics, loads of style, tons of talent and thriving creative careers. But I took a step back and asked myself two things:
1. What can I learn from these gals?
2. What gifts of knowledge can I share to make myself valuable to these rad ladies?

What I learned: 
• We need a new word for networking. Because the word “networking” conjures up images of trading business cards in stuffy hotel conference rooms. But sometimes networking happens while you’re shaking your ass in a bikini at the hippest poolside you’ve ever been to.

• And networking isn’t just about landing new clients. It’s also about finding your people – those who can inspire you to look at your career from a different perspective. People who uplift your vision, challenge your viewpoint and inspire growth.

• Showing up is important. I wrote more extensively about this over at the Braid blog today.

• I need a web plan for my clients. I’ve been so focused on branding and business visioning that I’ve put web by the wayside. Star taught me that I need to have a plan of action to better work with my developers – so that in turn I can better service my clients.

• I need to go to Burning Man. I’ve been really curious about economics, exchanges of energy and how we, as artistpreneurs, are compensated for The Work. I think I might be able to learn a few lessons on these topics at Burning Man, of all places. Star is a seasoned Burning Man veteran and gave me lots of insight – from staying hydrated to not being run over by an art car while high (or sober – there are whole communities at Burning Man dedicated to staying clean).

• Metrics don’t matter. It’s easy to get caught up in analytics when it comes to measuring your value as a blogger – but Megan (hi, roomie!) reminded me that it’s not about numbers. It’s about our content and the impact we can have on a narrow, but deep, group of readers.

• There is enough work for everyone. One of the coolest things about this weekend is that a lot of us gals are in each others sandboxes but never once did I feel jealous or threatened. Success isn’t a zero-sum game. There is an abundance of opportunity to create and make a living from what we, as artists and entrepreneurs, have to share with the world.

Erin Jane and Kelli Murray taught me that when it comes to having a family and a creative career you can have it all. You just have to redefine what “having it all” looks like. Seeing the love they have for their young families combined with the passion they have for creativity was admirable.

• Sometimes you gotta stop talking shop and shake it. At one point we were all feeling exhausted from talking shop. So we grabbed some beers and danced by the pool. The conversations went from SEO to our love lives, babies and alternate universe dream jobs.

Every single one of the ladies I kicked it with in Palm Springs have motivated and inspired me to kick ass and take names while capturing, shaping and sharing the creative adventure I’m on in this lifetime. Thank you, Promise, Alyssa, Megan, Amanda, Star, Shauna, Bri, Breanna, Erin, Lindsay, Joanna, Cassie, Vanessa, Chelsea, Emma, Eva, Kelli, and Kate. (I hope I didn’t leave anyone out!) I learned so much from you ladies and can’t wait to see you again! 

P.S. All images shot with Instagram. Follow me there – @andkathleen and you can see more images from this weekend by searching #designlife2012

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