It was just after a graduate social gathering. We were at a bar (of course) and just shy of our third drink when it just happened. We started talking about the field we were going in. What we loved and mostly what we hated. We chose this field for the love of creation and art. We chose this field because we were the talkative bunch in school and we were the ones who chose art as an elective rather than econ. We learned a lot over the past year and a half and now we learned what the rather large and rather ugly elephant in the room was: disingenuous relationships. We are constantly told to network. The saying goes "sometimes it's not what you know but who you know." We had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people in our program from CEOs to Directors. We made it a priority to meet them personally and exchange information. We have built our LinkedIn profiles with these relationships and most of the time that is where we left it. It was in the numbers, quantitative rather than qualitative. What they don't tell you is that those relationships matter always and forever.
Fast forward a few months and I was on my way attended SXSW in Austin. Best known for its conference and festivals, SXSW is an event where they celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. I met people from all around the world who worked in a multitude of different industries. We shook hands, exchanged cards and sometimes grabbed drinks. I met an MBA student who was interested in starting his own business. He was at South By to network. I told him that networking isn't all its hyped to be. I found building genuine relationships more difficult to obtain rather than the everyday shake and exchange. I told him that we owe it to ourselves to create better relationships because that's how real things that matter happen. Building relationship is all about investing in yourself and the people around you rather than hitting a goal. Having genuine relationships is how we gain momentum in the industry and become better people. Those who are willing to invest in his business have to have similar values to him and those values come out over time. Time well spent on each other. Honestly, he didn't want to hear it. He smiled and nodded said his polite goodbyes and off he was exchanging more cards and shaking more hands.
Back at the bar with two of my student colleagues, we sat pretty miserably at the idea of building fake relationships for the rest of our careers. There had to be more than this. LinkedIn is not the new Facebook. It is a platform created to help connect and get inspiration on being a better leader and a better team member. We have to be the change in the industry, and we have to get over this hump of relationship building. Someone doesn't have to be your best friend to be a good team member. They just have to be in it for all the right reasons.