This Thing Called Networking is Just About Making New Friends

I get it. I’m a true extrovert. I get my energy from being with others. I love people. I really do. I am also infinitely curious. I want to hear about you. What makes you tick? What makes you feel alive? What are your dreams? What is heavy on your heart and how can I help lift that burden?

I’m also a storyteller. I enjoy not only hearing about others’ amazing journeys, I want to find that captivating nugget and share it in a compelling manner. I want to bring it to life so others can grow, learn and gain inspiration from it.

Because I love people and their stories, networking isn’t about growing my professional network or even landing that perfect job. It’s about connecting with others. It’s about hearing stories, gaining inspiration, learning something new. If I can connect two people or help someone find the resource that helps them, I am energized, fulfilled and satisfied. It’s also so much fun! If you remain open and look for commonalities, you will be amazed by what you find.

This fall, I took my children to an arts open house at UVA. It was all over Facebook and it looked like fun. Plus, there was free food, fun activities, and a free movie outside. What’s not to love? Except I didn’t realize it was for UVA students, not the general public. Yeah. Duh. My children were some of the youngest there and my 14-year-old son was just old enough to feel socially awkward in this crazy situation mom had put him in. However, we were there, it was super cool and why not enjoy ourselves? We really did have fun.

My daughter wanted to get her face painted. We waited in line for a long time, probably 30 minutes, but it felt like hours since there were so many creative and intriguing things to see: sculptures; black light glow art (yeah, I don’t know the name, but that’s what it was); paintings and drawings – charcoal, oil, pastels, you name it; studios with all of the latest accouterments; I mean a serious love fest for my daughter and me, who are artists through and through. My engineering son even enjoyed the spinning structure that involved counter weights and fulcrums. It was all begging to be explored, but my girl wanted her face painted and by golly, we were going to tap our toes to the music as we waited, talking to sweet UVA students who thought my daughter was, “So cute.”

Finally, (apparently, I have no patience) my daughter was up. She picked a beautiful butterfly and sat down for her embellishment. And so, being infinitely curious, I asked Amy Jorgensen how she got into face painting. She was truly an artist and her creations both awed and delighted. It turns out Amy had worked at Disney. Guess what? I had too! She also worked in marketing and face painting was something she did for fun. I was looking for a job in, you guessed it, marketing. I asked Amy if I could sit down and have an informational meeting with her in the next couple of days. “Of course” was her answer. When we met, I was struck by the energy and synergy that coursed through my veins and filled the room. I had found a woman who had followed her passion and had an amazing story to share. Check her out!

I went to an arts open house that was intended for college students. I made the most of it. I kept an open mind. I found an inspiration and discovered a new friend. Who knew?

When you keep an open mind, you never know what you will uncover. So get out there, meet someone new and get inspired!

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