One of them is networking - at which I'm wicked good. It's hard to talk endorsements for my skills in a blog post without it coming across as arrogant or self serving.
But suffice it to say that I regularly get comments and compliments about my networking and self-marketing when I show up at events, meet and greet, and explore joint opportunities, pay-it-forward moments, and poke at tipping-point(ish) shenanigans.
Easily one-half of those folks who follow up with me after these events (which is fractional compared to the number who should be following up -- with everyone, at every event) contain some version of, "Wow, you're really good at networking."
So, there are two points that I want to make.
First (to get it out of the way), I really try to make sure I'm not engaging in any sort of usury. I've written a lot in this space about "genuine networking", and my desire to build relationships, and not engage in the professional version of Pokémon (the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality of some LinkedIn.com network builders who don't realize they're an untrusted cartoon).
Second (and the message I really want to get out), is I work freaking hard at networking.
Seriously, I bust my hump so much on the networking front, that I'm surprised I have any sort of hump left to bust (hrm ...).
Anyway, there are people for whom networking comes easily. Some of these are good, amazing people, building relationships, connecting the dots, and making big things happen, regardless of whether they're involved. Others (while maybe also amazing), are less "good" -- the equivalent of used snake oil salesmen who may have a great memory and can capture names and minute details, but are using info to their own benefit, relationships be damned.
I am neither of these guys. I am a guy who has to work so ridiculously hard to go to networking events I know I need to go to find those people who may have my next gig (acting or toy job), even if I would rather be doing something else, like spending time with my family, going on a run, working on a screenplay, or any of million things for which there isn't time in the day or my life to do. (Saying "yes" to something is saying "no" to something else.)
I work to remember names and go say, "hi" again. I work to introduce people I've met to other people I meet where I think there could be a business or personal relationship connection. I work to make sure I don't spend "too much time" with people I know and like at these events, so I can make sure to meet new folks and explore new opportunities. I work to go talk to the person sitting in a corner who doesn't have the social or networking skills to get plugged into the current event (and believe me, some of these people are alone for a reason). I work to connect, because like my acting, for me it's about relationships, about personal and corporate growth, about getting to be more than what I am.
And I share how to do it for other people. Not because I think I'm God's gift to networkers. No, it's because it is so hard for me, but so important, and I know it's even harder for some folks (people who are introverts rather than extros, people who have self-confidence issues, people who are worried about coming across as ingenious, and so on).
How can I be so arrogant as to not share, try to help, and build relationships with these folks so we can mutually do big things together?
There are a couple of specific folks that attend our too-infrequent Triangle chapter IGDA meetings. These particular people hate crowds -- As in, "out-of-their-skin" hate. And, bravely, they're at these things, because they recognize the value of meeting other people. And we pull aside from the crowd, every time, and just chat, one-on-one. Fifteen minutes. Thirty. Forty-five. Who cares? If I was a PokeLinkedIn Master, the "disruption" of not meeting every new-to-me person at the event and collecting their business cards might be maddening.
But when it's relationship building, when it's checking in on another human being and both taking a breather from the chaos and work that is networking, it's a recharge, a reminder of why I do it. And of how they can.