Networking 101: Make the Connection

How many times have you blown off a commitment, pleaded a full schedule, an emergency, or any excuse at all, and then muttered a quiet pledge of “next time” to yourself?

Mary Ellen Merrigan & Alyson B. Stanfield

Mary Ellen Merrigan & Alyson B. Stanfield

We’ve all been there. I’m thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t invoke an excuse last week when Alyson B. Stanfield was in town because I made great connections!

Alyson captured the artist in all of us when she penned, “I’d Rather Be in the Studio.”

"I'd Rather Be in the Studio," by Alyson B. Stanfield

“I’d Rather Be in the Studio,” by Alyson B. Stanfield

She spoke with a passionate group of artists at Red Dog Studios.  Owner/photographer Tim Anderson hosted the event.

Those who know Alyson understand her love for people and great respect for her “peeps,” which is how she describes those on her mailing list.

Not surprisingly, as each person introduced themselves and talked briefly about their art, Alyson and Tim parlayed the conversation to promotion, with Alyson often explaining the importance of frequent email connections with your audience.

In the midst of lively discussion, I met new friends, reconnected with others, and learned about new and worthwhile exhibits. In short, I grew as an artist.

As is often the case, a comment from one of the speakers seemed particularly directed to me.

Ann Hart Marquis, an acrylic specialist, talked about working with all manner of acrylics. I had experienced a problem with paint applied to my first-ever sculpture just that afternoon, so I mustered up and asked her a specific question. Turns out she was far more specific than me.

She queried me on the brand of product I’d tried and its reaction. She offered suggestions and encouraged me to follow up with her. Without challenging me, she made me want to know more about a topic foreign to my experience. It was easy to talk with her. The next day she called with even more information.

Because I forgot about myself and thought only of my project, I dared to speak up outside my bead arena. In the process, I learned no question is wrong or too unimportant for an expert.

Although it sounds a bit dramatic, I felt a door another world open a bit wider. In the words of Albert Einstein:

The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.

The next time you’re tempted to opt out, my advice is make the connection.

Thanks, Alyson for being a catalyst. Thank you Ann for reaching out to a stranger.

How will you network your world?