Guest Post – Joseph Stashko: networking (round II)
October 7, 2010 2 Comments
In light of Alice Vincent’s rather courageous and forward approach to networking, we get a little insight form the other side of the table. This week Joseph Stashko informs us that an online presence might be a better first step if spoken words sometimes escape you.
Networking. The word alone sends shivers up my spine and makes me visibly cringe. It’s up there with ‘facilitation’, ‘stepping up to the plate’ and ‘let’s move forward’ as another piece of media jargon.
I remember when I had the kernel of an idea to become a journalist. I was still at school and was discussing my chosen career choice with my mother. She wisely said that I’d need a thick skin and be prepared to put myself out there, to go against my natural instinct of being quiet and reserved and be prepared to sell myself in order to progress. At the time I dismissed this sage advice and walked away in a huff. Why, I thought, wouldn’t someone accept me on the quality of my writing? Why wouldn’t the world see what an amazing journalist I was and come knocking on my door, begging for my services?
The moral of the story is this; mums are always right. I swiftly realised that in order to progress I’d have to meet with like-minded people and not be afraid to let them know that I was eager to work. For someone who isn’t in the habit of shouting one’s own praises from the rooftops, this proved to be rather difficult and unnatural. I’d normally be found on the fringes of eagerly networking media types, gingerly looking on as cards were swapped and ideas were exchanged. Part of me still thought I’d be compromising my own ideals if I ‘sold out’ and went in all guns blazing, listing my achievements left right and centre.
In a way, online ‘branding’ has dealt me a kind hand. One can effectively network and promote work online without having to actually push it in someone’s face. I’ve managed to build an online presence that encompasses a personal blog, a hyperlocal website and several other online commitments. If someone wants to see any work I’ve done, I can link them to it. While this is less personable and natural than a face-to-face conversation, it’s provided an outlet for me to display my work without making me feel like I’m ‘that guy’ with a sheaf of business cards.
A lot of people I’ve met face to face have seen my work online. That’s pleasing because not only does it mean I must be doing something right, but that we already have common ground before beginning to chat about other matters.
In a face-to-face sense, let’s just say I’m working on it. I’m still an awkward, lanky bespectacled shape that mills around looking for a chance of a conversation, but I’ve recently surprised myself with my improved willingness to engage with potentially intimidating journalists and editors.
Before I thought of it as showing off. Now I think of it as credit where credit is due. If I don’t tell people what I can do, how will they ever know? So if you see me at an event in the future, come and say hello, you can bet I’ll be more scared than you.