Having a very slow Friday. Reading from Austin Kleon's newsletter--which feels like great timing, as I've been feeling a little homesick for America this month.
Luckily, I'm spending all of today pretty focused on just drinking jasmine tea and getting emotionally zenned out before I go into the recording studio tomorrow--which is certainly a recognized form of "home" in my book, no matter where I am.
And because I've been meditating on homesickness and friends, today seems like a good day to tackle a great question I heard recently from an #entrylevelboss reader. The question is this:
Networking and meetups and stuff feel so casual. How can you tell if you're making professional contacts or just making new friends?
Right, this one's a bit tricky, but there are actually a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out if you've found your new BFFAEAE or have just unlocked the next step in embarking down the career path of your dreams.
Let's get into it.
1. First of all, anyone you've studied with probably falls into both categories: friend and business contact. Don't be afraid to reach out to college or high school friends at any time in your career, even if you haven't spoken in a while.
These are usually people who can vouch for your character and want to see you succeed, two very clutch traits when finding allies in the professional world.
But the real trick is figuring out who's batting for which team with those other people you start to meet....
2. If you meet at a networking event, you are networking. It may feel like you're not talking about anything too specific to your career goals, but you are both there with the intention* of expanding your professional circles.
Think of it like going to a speed dating event (do those still exist? would try). You're all there to meet someone special, so you don't really need to repeat that fact whenever you sit down at the next table.
Similarly at a networking event, this willingness to grow your network is implied. Take the tools you learn here in my emails, and follow up with new networking friends using as much authenticity and know-your-shit empowerment as possible.
*You may very well find your soulmate at a hackathon, or meet your new best friend at an alumni event after college. And that's totally okay. It's really quite rare to find a real spark between two people (romantically or otherwise). So if it's that undeniable, go confidently in the relationship of your dreams.
3. The trickiest situation is actually when you're going the other way around: What happens when you make a powerful friend?
Due to the nature of my consulting work, I meet a lot of people in some kind of vaguely professional setting. But I also meet quite a few insanely successful people in my personal life, too.
And without realizing it, I've come up with a pretty solid ground rule for networking with powerful friends, family friends, boyfriends or girlfriends of friends, etc:
OK: I feel confident and comfortable calling on my personal connections for career advice, or for an introduction to one of their professional contacts.
And if I do get introduced to one of their contacts, I will be on my *very best and most awesome* behavior, because what you do in that situation reflects directlyback on your friend.
NOT AS OK: If it would completely change the nature and power dynamic of our friendship to [become their employee, work for their wife, take them on as a client, etc]... I won't go there.
Friendships are changed by business. If you go to work for a friend or with a friend, your relationship will most likely transform from more personal to more professional.
So if going to work for one of these kinds of friends really is the dream job? Well, go after it, but with care.
That's it from me, my darlings. I need to go get some coffee and then get back to zenning out before my big day in the studio tomorrow.
If you want to see what it's like inside a recording studio, come hang out on Snapchat all day tomorrow (Saturday): alexashowtime
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