For round two of networking, I did a tad bit more preparation than I did for the first. This time around I actually took a couple of minutes to look into what was being exhibited at this gallery opening. Gaining the knowledge that it was the ‘Senior Thesis Exhibition’ where graduating seniors will be showcasing works that speak to who they are and their favorite mediums, I expected two things – for it to be a sentimental event and for it to be crowded with friends, family, and faculty.
Unlike my first experience of networking for this course, it was much more challenging for me to knock out talking to five people I didn’t know this time around. I wanted to say breaking the ice was initially a challenge due to people viewing the art in groups of friends and/or family. In reality though, I’m a big-time introvert and some days (most days) I need to mentally prepare myself to be in large crowds and to talk to people – it turned out, last Thursday was definitely one of those days. Don’t get me wrong though, I did make some initial efforts of making conversation with those groups and they’d kind of smirk and migrate. That definitely help in pushing me out of my shell for this event.
Despite feeling very withdrawn that evening, I refused to leave that event without accomplishing the task of engaging in conversation with at least a small handful of people I didn’t really know. After about 15 minutes at the event, I finally mustered the energy to warm up my social skills by talking to an illustration student by the name of Noah. Disclaimer: I know Noah from being his summer orientation leader in 2017 but we don’t talk often at all, so we got to catch up and I think that counts as something.
After my conversation with Noah, a little more networking action began to happen. Most of my conversations were with the artists of the pieces and those conversations were very interesting. Being able to hear them personally share their passion, excitement and pride warmed my heart. It also provided me with the opportunity to congratulate them and celebrate their hard work. One of the conversations that stuck out to me was my conversation with Savannah Dobbs about her piece ‘Flash Forward’ which highlighted the history of photography as well as successful interracial relationships. I was very grateful to hear directly from Savannah about what she did to achieve those results in her piece but most importantly what her piece meant to her and how it transformed her life. I was very touched and proud of her even though we’d just met – I even gave her Instagram a follow. I did speak with one spectator that I didn’t know, named Nora, about an art piece titled ‘Black, White and Both’. Nora didn’t have a pamphlet, so I shared mine and we were able to discuss the depth and sentimentality of the piece together.
When completing my previous networking assignment, I noted that two things I could improve upon were researching about the event and actually introducing myself to people. Although I didn’t talk to countless people this time around, I did accomplish those two things. I made the effort of researching the event and was more mindful about shaking hands and introducing myself. To add to the list of important things to accomplish for these events, I would say that for following networking events I need to spend more time mentally preparing myself to socialize. I should know myself well enough to know that is an essential component.