The Power of Connection
Who we connect with, and how, is one of the biggest factors in our happiness and success. People are everything.
Many creators focus mostly on making great work and pay little attention to making connections, or what can be called networking. We are often too introverted or anxious or awkward to even know how to begin; so we focus on our work and hope that we will be discovered.
There are others who focus more on networking, but maybe not in the most effective way. Some of us have made many connections, but only a few that are really strong. Or we focus on finding people based on who has the most money, influence, etc., and we are too focused on what we want to gain.
Authentic connections are what we need most, in both our personal and professional lives. With this approach our networks can be much smaller, and the bonds are stronger. But how do we do this?
Start where you are. Be open to serendipity! Every time someone says hello or asks you how you are, use this as an opportunity to practice connecting. Be open, honest, and authentic. Help people when you see a need. Say something positive, and be respectful. Learn to do this with confidence, eye contact, and good posture!
And do all of this with absolutely no expectations or pressure.
So how does chatting with your barista or random people on the street help you succeed as a creative?
You are starting with changing your approach to networking, and you may need practice—if you don't know how to connect with a barista, will you know how to connect with an art director, curator, or potential client?
You also need to drop the idea that a barista is somehow less important or deserving of your time and attention than someone like an art director. Have integrity and respect for all people equally, and again, drop all expectations. Every single person you meet has the potential to change your life, and you theirs.
Once you have mastered the practice of genuine connection, use it to reach out. Get more involved in your community, whether it's your local one or online. Approach people you admire. Offer something positive, stay open, and free of expectations; building strong relationships over time is more important than getting something back right away.
And remember to allow for serendipity—no matter how hard you work to make connections, the effortless and seemingly random ones are often the most important in the end.