This first networking assignment was a little difficult and intimidating. I started by walking around the gallery and warming up by talking to classmates I already knew. While I was with a couple of peers, someone I didn’t know stopped to look at the sculpture we were admiring. I asked her if she knew what it was supposed to be, and she explained what she’d heard from the artist. From there, my peers hijacked the conversation and I moved on to another part of the exhibit.
I stood by a sculpture. Some guy was near me, and I asked him if he knew what the gallery was about. “Is this all one person’s senior thesis or something? Is this room supposed to be one piece, or are they all separate pieces?” He seemed a little socially anxious. He answered a few of my questions but it didn’t really spark a conversation. I didn’t press him too much.
Most of the people I talked to at the gallery were people I was already familiar with. Sometimes they were peers that I’d had 2 or 3 classes with, but never actually talked to, so it was nice to socialize with them and get to know them better.
Overall this experience was kind of strange. I don’t really like talking to people I don’t know, so this was a step outside my comfort zone. Once I tried talking to people, it wasn’t that bad. All you really have to do is ask questions or act like you’ve never seen a painting before. What is this? Why did the artist make this? What does it mean? The one thing that frustrated me was that most people were kind of closed off. They didn’t really want to talk. Most people showed up with friends, and it was always much harder to approach a group of people, unless you were also there with a friend. It’s kind of a 1:1 ratio. I think it’s harder to network with people from my generation. Growing up with technology and social media has made us less sociable and more introverted. Why talk to someone when you could text or dm them? But after this exercise I recognize the value of face to face networking. I know that in this field, it’s all about who you know, and the more you network, the more people you get to know, and the more opportunities you’ll get. I’m looking forward to the next networking event.
I think next time around, I’ll be a little more adventurous. Talk to more strangers. Maybe I’ll try something on my own, go to an event off campus. Maybe one of those “every single artist” events that WJCT hosts. I’ve always wanted to go, but I’ve been too nervous and intimidated to go. But why the hell not? I think it would be a worthwhile experience.