Yesterday over my triple non-fat caramel macchiato from a popular chain café, I was reflecting on my one-year anniversary as a professional in the museum world. So many things happen in just over a year, I’ve attended 1 AAM conference, 2 AMM conferences, the NAEA Museum Education Pre-conference, and the list goes on. You’d think after those networking opportunities I have a Rolodex filled with potential collaborators and wisdom providers. I don’t. That is not to say I don’t have some because I do. Let’s be honest it takes more than one session with a colleague to make a connection. So, how do we as Young Museum Professionals break into these groups of professionals and get to know each other?
Wash, Rinse, and Repeat.
This direction is not only for shampooing but also for networking: if you feel you didn’t have the opportunity to connect with those you networked with, try again. I’ve found sending out a personal note to those individuals you’ve made contact with at conferences is very beneficial. How many times do we get hand-written letters? Not often. We live by emails but if you switch it up this will make you different and memorable.
Attending more than one conference every couple years is also very beneficial. (Understanding sometimes it’s not financially feasible) Connecting with someone after a hiatus is great, if you can still put a face with a name and put him or her into context (What is your common experience, how did you first touch base). My first AMM conference, I met a very interesting colleague from Chicago, the following year I was delighted by his presence at the conference! A familiar face in a crowd, an anchor point, what’s better than that?
Hopefully these experiences will provide you with the opportunity to ask advice, to share stories, to find common ground, and maybe come up with potential programming opportunities.
Remember, networking takes time. So wash, rinse, and repeat if needed.
Please share your networking experiences and questions.