Networking

Sometime in 2014 I contributed to a Q&A for The Broad Side. A website about women in broadcast.

How do you build your contacts and maintain a great relationship with them? Has this helped you get from step to step in your career?

This is an interesting question “Building contacts” or “Networking” really doesn’t have to be gross if you’re well meaning. I used to think it was schmarmy, even though I was naturally doing it anyway. For me it’s just being curious. And I’m always asking myself, “how can I help you?”, rather than asking “how can you help me?”.

If I went about my life and therefore my career thinking how every interaction with others could allow me to take a step forward in my career I would be a very different person with a very narrow set of friends and it would limit who I’d be open to. There’s a terrific book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. The main guts of it is being generous to others. And generosity to me means giving without conditions or expectations. So therefore I find the second part of the question a tough one to answer cause I don’t see it all that way entirely. Naturally, work begets work.

Perhaps this is an overused word, to the point that for some it may have lost its meaning but I like to think I build my relationships organically. By that I mean I’m not too crazy for making a bee line towards an Executive Producer or and Chief Programmer of a company and forcing a relationship with them, it can come across as quite desperate.

There’s many ways I connect with people – there’s the obvious, reaching out to people blindly via email, a phone call or a hand written letter to ask for a general chat over coffee or a meal; meetings set up via one’s respective agents; connecting with people via social media or just from staying open in social gatherings or links through friends.

Some people I get along with swimmingly, other’s not so much. That’s just life.

Socially, I like to talk to people about them, beyond the titles that sit next to their names. I love to talk to them about and their passions. A lot of people can be really put off if you just ask them about their work because for many of us our work doesn’t define us, and then we feel boxed in. I know I’d feel that way if I’m only asked about hosting and music. I think the key to all this is being a bloody good listener. So many people aren’t. I think being a good listener in conversations is where the respect lies. That’s when you get to heart of people, and you can assess their character and if they’re the kind of person you’d like to be in your orbit.

One of the main frameworks I use in meetings, general chats, especially those that are initiated by me or set up through an agency is by using the scale of abstraction or mountaintop theory. It’s keeping conversations at an ideas level – top of the mountain – because that’s where people are likely to understand one another. If you’re too specific, too detailed (bottom of the mountain conversation) that’s where you lose people.

The other thing I like to do is not revere people. I think it can undo you in conversation and you enter the meeting with an apology in your body as if you’re not worthy of sharing time with them. The meeting is set up so speak as equals  and talk ideas. I’m naturally optimistic so I keep it positive too and try and keep my off days at bay.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Listening to: Nature and traffic.