Networking Versus Quality Connections
I have to confess I hate the word “networking” because it implies connections are only made for commercial gain only. Instead, I like “connections” to describe how we approaching building our community at Momenta.
This point was driven home to me this week when I had a particularly delightful Zoom call with a new colleague.
Almost 17 years ago, I met Camera Bits‘ COO and Heartware co-founder Katie Werremeyer when she asked me to speak about my then photojournalism career and how I use Photo Mechanic at the company’s booth at Photo Plus Expo, the massive industry trade show in New York City.
Katie and I started our connection at work but, as we spent more time together at industry events or on bi-monthly calls, it swiftly moved into friendship territory. As the years went on, we attended each other’s major events like holidays, weddings, and anniversaries. Our dogs became best buds. She and our co-founder Chris had deep discussions about their mutual love of the same science fiction and the Pacific Northewest. And, yes, eventually our company Momenta Creative did Camera Bits’ rebranding.
However, it was the connection that led us to create an opportunity that benefited both of us and our companies, not merely an impersonal network.
As anyone who has gone through the process will tell you a rebrand requires a company to wholly trust a vendor. Rebrands likewise need a creative team that can fully understand the company’s market, culture, and goals. Our relationship had proven to Katie and her team that Momenta would be a good fit because she knew we respected her organization’s needs.
This year, during our regular catch-up call, Katie said to me, “I want you to meet Brad Tuggle at Blue Water Communications. He’s awesome and you are both in the same field. I don’t know what will come of it but I just feel like you two should know each other.”
After an introduction email from Katie, Brad and I arranged to connect once we found a space in our busy schedules. She was completely correct: he is awesome. I learned about his background and his transition to his current role. We discussed the struggles of the pandemic on how we communicate as professionals and the ripple effects it had on our industry. We commiserated about the changes that automation and A.I. have brought. We discussed everything from SEO to sensory deprivation tanks. After a one-hour conversation with him, this new connection felt like the potential start of another industry friendship.
I don’t know if Brad and I will ever work together on a project (but that would be incredible because he and his company are doing amazing things for public art!) and it doesn’t matter. The connection with another passionate communications professional is the best part.
I am grateful to be connected to people like Brad through connections like Katie who also believe in the power of relationships. I look forward to someday having another lively talk with him about the power of statistics in audience engagement, Freakonomics podcasts, why spokespeople are so important to effective messaging, and all manner of other things we didn’t get to during the last talk. Hopefully, Katie and Chris can join us on that chat.
Networks and professional networking events can sometimes feel cold and impersonal. Connections, however, can strengthen communities and generate trust, empathy, understanding, and inspiration among peers.
While I am definitely not suggesting we all become friends with every business connection we make, I do believe positively cultivated relationships that go beyond simple workplace interactions can make our industry’s growth more successful. These can open the door to creative collaborations that contain immeasurable potential. So, my advice to all of you is: go forth and make a genuine connection! You never know where it may lead.
TL;DR: Don’t just build networks. Make quality connections.
Jamie Rose is a co-founder and COO of Momenta Creative. We nicknamed Jamie the “Fun Machine” at the office because of her infectious laugh and unending energy. Don’t let the joyful exterior fool you. Her sharp approach to communications is what landed her previous positions with companies like The New York Times and The Global Fund, and what makes her strategic communications and campaign planning skills indispensable to our clients today.