I’ve never done this before, but after watching a short video clip from The Jeff Probst Show that a friend recommended to me (thanks, Lenet!), I contacted the guest of the show. I told her about my interest in networking and told her that I would like to meet her so I could share her story with the CLC community. Clearly a person who lives her truth, within minutes, here’s what I received back by email:
“Hi Alana, I always appreciate hearing from strangers who want to connect. I’m being totally serious. :)”
We were on a Skype call three days later and now it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Maria Scileppi.
Maria, after making the decision to move to a new city to pursue a new career path with an artistic bent, found herself alone. She described her situation like this, “I was an adult in a new city, trying to connect and form a community.” So she made the decision to combine her artistic skills with her desire to build a local relationship base and work on a project that she called “Peoplescape: A Year-Long Social Experiment.” The idea: Make a new friend every day for a year.
Her focus on intentional friend-raising was a success. In 365 days, she connected with 412 people (some days, she met more than one person with whom she felt a connection). A social person by nature, Maria would find herself in situations where she could meet new people. She says she didn’t do anything out of the ordinary in terms of meeting people. She would simply engage people in conversation wherever she was that day. And, since she wanted the connections to be authentic, she wouldn’t decide right away whether an individual would be considered for her project until she had a good feel for who they were.
Once a meaningful interaction was established, she would tell the individual about her goal for the day and say something like, “Will you be my [insert the date]?” If they said “yes,” she would take a photograph of them. Hundreds of friends later, she wrapped up her year of friend-making with a piece of art containing their images. She told me “Art is all about creating communities;” I couldn’t agree more. Beautiful all the way ‘round!
Maria shared with me that she avoids using the word “networking” due to the negative connotations associated with it (e.g. inauthentic). Like me, she focuses on the connections and community-related aspects of networking. Here’s some advice she offers on the topic:
- Presence. When you show up to an event be present. Show up (yes, this was the inspiration behind yesterday’s post!). Put away your phone because, “when you look at your phone, even for a moment, you are projecting to people that you are not available.”
- Take Note. Once your conversation with the individual is complete, step away and write on the business cards, taking note of what you discussed and follow up items promised.
- Follow Up. Within 24 hours, follow up with your new contact to “lock in your connection.” This can be a simple email, LinkedIn invitation or hand written note. Maria believes that after 48 hours, you have lost the opportunity.
Maria’s perspective on networking is very much in synch with my own. Tomorrow, I will tell you more about our conversation and how she manages her “Super Power!” Until then, get out there and make a new friend!