Networking – It’s Not What You Think

by Ad 2 Tampa Bay | January 7, 2015

I’m a freelance photographer. I have no experience in advertising and I have a degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of South Florida. So how did I get involved with Ad 2 Tampa Bay? Not the way you would think but close.

When they say, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” I couldn’t agree more. But what most people don’t realize it’s also how well you know “them” and how well you can relate. For years I worked with many people and networked through different ways, as any photographer would. The problem was that as a young creative mind in a city that is full of business orientated people, I was looking in the wrong places without even knowing it.

If you look at these groups that go into networking, many are adults that are well into their 30s and 40s with businesses trying to expand, looking for others that could help them through referrals. And while I noticed that they all had things to relate to each other, like homes and families, I was blind to see that it was something I couldn’t relate to. I was constantly trying to talk to people with a sales pitch while not really making any connection at all. While all of this was going on, I had made more important connections in other ways without knowing it.

While working at the student-run newspaper during college, I made friends with the people in the sales department. After graduation, I kept in touch, went to parties, and eventually went out to networking events set up by them. It was something I did because they were fun and because I could easily relate to them without even trying.

 Then, after some time, I had a friend that had risen through the ranks of Ad 2 Tampa Bay contact me and ask if I wanted to be on the board. Their Historian had gotten a new job and was moving away. They needed someone to take pictures at events. Naturally, this was something I could easily do.

That was last year. Now I look back and I am glad I made the decision to join. Not because of the job opportunities but because of the people I met and the experiences I have had.

The definition of networking is “to interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career” but it is more than that. And when you realize this and find a way to make it personal you will gain a lot more than you expect.

Ad 2 is not just about getting together with a group of professionals. It’s about getting together with friends.

Jose Lopez | Historian