Networking? Sounds Dangerous.
By Punika Limpanudom
“It’s all about who you know here”, I hear them tell me. The City of Angels, though geographically spread out from the San Fernando Valley to the shores of Santa Monica, is as tight-knit as your favorite christmas jumper. “Network, network, network”, but what is it exactly? The word itself makes me shudder with fear of being forced into a room full of middle-aged business execs, plastering a half-hearted smile on my face and being pressured to say something vaguely intelligent about some current industry-related issue. Like the rise of the cord-cutter generation and how it’s affecting the industry. Or I have to use words like “syndication” or “vertical integration”. Yikes.
I’ve walked this road before, putting yourself out there at networking events is still as terrifying as anytime I do it. One thing I realize though, now that I’ve marinated in the LA sun for a solid 2 months, is that it’s not as daunting as I used to think it is anymore. Maybe it’s the alumni network? Or the unbelievably nice weather? People here are so lovely and always willing to help out and talk to you. I’ve found that the most you can offer someone is sincerity, kindness and you can offer then who you are as an individual. I’ve now met great people from all aspects of the industry, while I waited in line for a concert, hopping into an uber or even while I was in line for sushi at an SULA event. The latter example, however, is my proudest. Two glasses of Proseccos in, heart filled with hope of free SULA event food while also hiding from the crowd, I turn around to and clumsily said “So, do you like sushi?”. That lead to two job leads, several life lessons and they’ve been my mentors ever since.
Bottom line is: “Networking” is just a scary label people use to make “being friendly” sound more professional. Just be genuine, be passionate and be yourself. Even though it’s just about sushi, you never know where it will get you.