Networking: Shout out to my AI friends.

A Little about Networking, from My Perspective…

Today I want to talk a bit about networking. Particularly my perspective of it. First of all, I should explain that I’m an introvert, like a lot of fellow artists out there. Although, I don’t consider myself shy, and I love performing at karaoke, I am soft-spoken, and being in a social setting takes a lot of mental effort. I will have to recover and recuperate at home for a few days after a networking event. The ironic thing about this, is that the artist, graphic design, and animation industries rely so much on the networking model for connections and employment opportunities, yet artists as a whole are generally more inclined toward introversion, making it extremely difficult to navigate the social interactions necessary for a successful career.

Another side of the equation that doesn’t get noticed very often is how the peer-to-peer connections are affected. This is where my friends from my animation school, The Art Institute of California – SF, comes into play. I wish I was better at ‘small talk’. Once I get to know someone, I can have deep conversations about emotional relationships and relativistic physics, but the “Hi, how are you doing? How’re your kids?” conversations just don’t come naturally for me. Plus, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all my friends who also live here can attest to the fact that you pretty much need to spend ALL your time just trying to continue existing in this community. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for arranging meets, having drinks or just hanging out playing video games. So it seems that the only time I’m contacting my friends from school and when I’m trying to cash in on the networking mechanism to try and land a job. Basically, when I need something from them.

So, this is essentially my apology to you: I really do want to be friends with you, and hang out with you doing fun stuff, and hearing about your life. I’m sorry that you only hear from me when I want something.

I also suffer from something I like to call, ‘desperation’. I was afflicted with it all through high school. Any time I wanted to ask a girl out, or even talk to them normally, I would give off waves of desperation, scaring away all but the most ardent friends. Even when I didn’t want a date, when I just wanted to have a normal conversation, It would come off to them like I was asking them for their hand in marriage.

I eventually learned how to tone myself down so I could have workable relationships. However, I’ve noticed a variation of desperation when it comes to networking. Whenever I’m at networking events, or trying to reach out to colleagues, I give off these waves of desperation. No matter what I say, all anyone seems to hear is something like “Can you give me a job?” I still have not been able to figure out how to fix that interaction.

On the flip side, I would love to be in a position to help my fellow artists. I love helping people. I can’t wait until I’m in a position to suggest one of my super talented former classmates for an opening at the company I will then be working for. I would love the opportunity to collaborate with them on cool projects.

So, AI students, if you’re out there and reading this, please feel free to reach out to me and help me get back into the swing of being social and connected. Comment on this blog, send me a random message on Facebook, text me, or even the old-fashioned phone call. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you,

Craig Smith