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No Need to Network. Just Make Friends!

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164857_952615054665_3813536_nThis article is dedicated to the class of 2013.  Congratulations!  You guys made it through years of grueling schoolwork, inevitably awkward social realizations, and most of you (if not all of you) probably lost whatever adorable versions of innocence that you were born with by your junior year.  You might be a little terrified to enter the real world or if you’re anything like me, you probably feel (misguidedly) more invincible than Superman in a world of no kryptonite.  Either way, Congratulations!

Most people tell college grads to “Network!  Network!  Network!”  And while that advice is somewhat useful, it can be confusing, tedious, and downright gross to anyone with a likable personality.   “Networking” is blatantly self-serving and superficial so instead of hitting up every industry event to “network,” why don’t you simply try making friends?

The next time you’re at an industry event, instead of asking people what they do (and then in your head, asking how this person can help you), ask where they’re from and what they do in their spare time.  Ask them where they live.  Maybe they live in the neighborhood where YOU used to live, and maybe they like to go to that Mexican place around the corner that has those fusion enchiladas that you were initially skeptical of but now you’re obsessed.  The objective is to find something in common with this person outside of work because that’s how you make friends.

Making friends is personal.  And now, I have a little bit of genius insight for you (yes, I just called myself a genius – take a moment to hate, now let’s move forward).  Business IS personal.  Whoever tells you otherwise is heartless.  I’m willing to bet my life that anyone who runs their own successful business has poured their heart and soul into their work.  I watched my dad do it every day.

Making business personal and creating genuine friendships will be more fulfilling to your soul and your career than any form of “networking.”

Don’t believe me?  The next time you go to a networking event, pick out two people.  Focus your conversation on solely your career aspirations and your professional identity with one person, and focus on your personal life with the other person.   After a week, follow up with both people and ask for some professional guidance.  Don’t be intrusive.  Think small.  Then, tell us what happened in the comments section below!  Or if you have any networking stories, I want to hear those too!

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About Kosha Patel

Fresh off the plane, Kosha Patel hails from Colorado. Despite her parents’ warning that Californians are “unstable,” she packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from the University of Southern California. Immediately after graduating, she pursued acting for its perks and made guest star appearances on Rules of Engagement, Rizzoli & Isles, Criminal Minds, Lie to Me, Grey’s Anatomy, Ringer, and HBO’s Funny or Die Presents series. She continued training/merrily socializing at Improv schools like The Groundlings and UCB where she discovered her passion for comedy writing. As a writer, she developed a web series with Fremantle Media, and she also co-wrote and co-produced a TV pilot (starring Richard Karn and Bob Clendenin) with Jaguar attached as a corporate sponsor. Currently you'll find her writing and producing content for Comediva.com, a renowned humor site that was inspired and created by three women in Los Angeles. Kosha continues to entertain 14-year-old Youtube critics – as well as her mom – by writing and producing digital shorts (that's fancy talk for "Youtube"). When she is not writing or producing, you can catch Kosha recurring on House of Lies and The Newsroom as well as doing stand up at popular comic joints such as The Laugh Factory, The Improv, and The Comedy Union. And if you still can’t find her … I would try Chipotle.