I’m a non-core user of Adobe products, aka the non-design or art focused users. For my illustrator friends, it comes easily to rattle on the benefits of Adobe and how they can help their work. I just like making cool videos and cleaning photos to heighten presentations for university or on my blog. Any distraction using technology equals fun in my brain. Adobe’s new Facebook App “Real or Fake?” isn’t helping. So when I was offered a chance to attend Adobe Days in San Francisco this past May, I dove right in.
I learned there was something magical about coming to events like these. My expectation of a student blogging conference was completely uninformed at best. So here’s something to be said for shattering expectations: Why should I even have them in the first place? Going to Adobe Days made me think of autonomous bloggers and representatives going over Adobe and constantly providing feedback over content I hardly had a chance to work with. To be honest, I felt out of my league. Excited to be included, but dubious of how helpful I could be. Or, of how genuine the experience would be for me. It wasn’t lack of confidence. It was — as a later blogger would point out — the barrier of ignorance. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I’m very glad that I didn’t.
Being constantly supported from all sides, seeing the successes, seeing the inner workings, and realizing, “Yes. I can be a part of it, too. Yes. Change is not just possible, but probable. And, Yes. Even the coffee tastes better in San Francisco.” Every single person I met was not “just a blogger,” they were fans of my favorite television series, charismatic individuals that could debate politics, and inspiring world-changers.
I couldn’t help but pour myself into the workshops, the networking, and the food. We all had passions, dreams, goals that we aimed for at the highest. Not even out of university and we were light years ahead of the curve: Having well-established blogs, businesses, or just awesome because we were getting started. These fabulous people became more than network connections. They became friends.
In University, the term networking is thrown around like a Frisbee. Some people instinctively pick it up. Others take a little bit of practice. And some don’t even understand the mechanics of how it can easily fly through the air. It’s not why you meet someone. Some days, it’s not even who you meet. The key to networking is how you meet that person.
Do you have a business card? Do you at least have a pen? Always smile. Always shake peoples’ hands. Always be polite. Even better, always have a dream, a tagline, or a simple phrase or favorite quote. People will remember you, if you remain YOU. Potential employers and associates don’t want your “working” face; they want your “living” face. I think college graduates get caught up in this rut: “Fun’s over; now it’s time to clock in to the adult workforce… ”
Let’s be real. San Francisco has shown me one crucial aspect of Networking and The New Job Market: the most important people you will meet in your life will be on Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It’s about showing who you are and why you love what you do. There is no “work” face and “friend” face. The people you work with will be a part of this web-driven world that shatters previous generations of a boring workplace. The people you work with will be your friends.
Every blogger went into this conference a little differently; but we all expected to come out with a similar feeling of “Sweet. Adobe connections. Cool.” I don’t think any of us dreamed we’d make the kind of friends that offer their couch for a weekend or drive four hours (or buy a plane ticket) just to say we hung out. Maybe we will start using Google+. Maybe we’ll stick to Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. Whatever we do, one thing is certain:
We’ll stick together.
And in the end, isn’t that what’s networking all about?
Lauryn Ash is a third year senior at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, studying English, Creative Writng, and International Studies. A self-described Whovian who can’t stop watching Sherlock, she remains a devoted Slytherin and a passionate Writer. Whether or not you’re just as coffee-obsessed as she is, you’ll love reading her regular column “A Shot of Espresso,” at Niche Magazine or reading her travel experiences on her travel blog “Tumbleweed Words.” Want to know more about her? Check out her LinkedIn or slightly more personal blog, “Too Much Life.”