Networking can be quite a scary word to a lot of creatives, it evokes the thought of dressing up smartly and becoming someone they are not in order to secure business. Often at organised networking events you swap business card with potential clients and are asked awkward questions like “so where do you work?” and “how do you make money?” rather than the more interesting question of “what are you working on at the moment?”.
3 years ago I started going to a monthly event in Rochester, Kent, called Tuttle 101 – a relaxed event with a collection of various types of people focused on inspiration, collaboration and learning through doing. First held upstairs in a local pub the event now happens once a month in a local coffee bar. Yes this one single event opened up a whole new world to me, and through it I have made friends, not “contacts”.
Tuttle 101 lead on to the majority of us converting an empty bank into a co-working space, called coFWD. Here we work on our own personal projects, and similar to the ethos of Tuttle 101, we bounce ideas off one another and help each other to do what we do even better. This is not an office space, we even hung balloons from the ceiling to prove this. It is a community space, we hold various events for the local area, and we do things together socially as well. I describe it as working in a place where you have chosen all the people you want to work with.
So when did people start thinking that a networking event would encourage creatives? As a creative I can speak for most of us and say that often our motive is not money, it is to make a difference in the world. We want to earn a living yes, but do we want to start discussing how much money we make? No, our inspiration does not come from money, it comes from projects, people and places – to name a few.
I have yet to meet a creative who enjoys “networking” events, however I know many creatives who are happy to meet up for a coffee. Yet people continue to try and connect with creatives by arranging fancy meetings and networking events or workshops with the aim of “expanding business” and “making profit”. A huge majority of the time these type of events never really connect with the creatives invited.
Maybe some money minded people think they are helping a creative by convincing them to become more business orientated. I can tell you now, it isn’t going to work, our whole life’s ambition is to make things much more important than money. So if you are a business reading this, think about how you can help them make a difference, not make money. As Albert Einstein said “Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value.”
By Natasha Steer
The next Tuttle 101 event is on Monday 17th September 2012 at 9.30am at the Deaf Cat Coffee Bar, Rochester, ME1 1LX
If you would like to know more about coFWD please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org