Networking in Nashville, when Networking wasn’t Cool
I was networking in Nashville when social networking wasn’t cool. (To the tune of “I was Country When Wasn’t Cool”) - hey, I live in Nashville- what do you expect?!
I came to Nashville in 2002 with one goal -to work in advertising- and no clue how to make it happen. I read a few career books about networking and working in the advertising field. They all said to set up informational interviews to get to know the companies and the people who run them. There were no social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (if they existed, I didn’t know about them). At the time, I didn’t even have a computer or the internet. All I had was a phone, a phone book, and a determined attitude.
I set about making a list of all the ad agencies in Nashville. I made calls to the receptionists inquiring about company size, what accounts they had, and who the owners were. Personally, I like to start at the top when networking- if possible. I eventually made my rounds with meetings at Bohan Advertising, The Buntin Group, GS&\F, J&A, DVL, and others. Someone referred me to an organization called Nashville Advertising Federation (now, American Advertising Federation Nashville). I attended some of their events, where I met even more advertising industry people.
I eventually did get a job in advertising, several in fact. I even became a board member for AAF Nashville. Over the years, I have remained in contact with the people that I met when I first started out in advertising. Now, they are connected to me via my social networks.
Today, I use LinkedIn to find people who work at the companies I am interested in knowing more about and send them a request to connect. I introduce myself by telling them I want to learn more about their company. The online approach is different from when I first started networking, but I usually try to get an in-person meeting with my online connection. Social networking is great for making the initial introduction or connection, but nothing beats face-to-face conversations when you want to get to know someone. I’m still networking, just using faster tools.