If you are not connecting, you are not networking.
Networking is not a matter of introducing yourself to someone and then finding out how they can help you succeed. Most of the time, it can be highly interruptive and obnoxious, especially if the person you are ‘networking’ with isn’t in the mood to network.
I was at a movie premiere last night and saw a cavalcade of stars at the reception including Clint Eastwood, Casey Affleck and John Cusak. They were all catching up with each other and chatting with their friends in the business. A friend asked me today if I networked with any of them and I replied, “no, it wasn’t a networking event, it was a movie opening.”
He looked puzzled. He knows I’m working on a film for next year and wondered why I didn’t seize the opportunity. I knew better. Someday I might be at a small get together, a conference or an industry meeting and I’ll see one of them and then I can say, “I was at your movie premiere!” and that will be an ice breaker.
The takeaway here is to be very sensitive to other people’s privacy and space, even when you see a great networking opportunity. If you want to network, either have someone introduce you in a private setting or create a networking event and invite people to attend.
Recommended read: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi