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How to Succeed at Networking Without Really Trying

Source: AmateurArtGuy

Vitamin T agent Jeremy Pair was once a fresh face on the Portland creative scene wondering just how the heck he was going to connect with those super talented agency folks he was dying to meet.

Sound familiar?

It doesn’t matter who you are, at some point in your career, you’re going to be the new kid looking to fit in.

What’s a poor creative to do?

Why network, of course! Which is exactly what Jeremy did.

And boy did he have a serious stroke of luck. His friend Jala Smith-Huys, also in Portland, was in the process of putting together something that would change his friendships, and his work life, for years to come (possibly forever, stay tuned!)

Jala had been doing a lot of client-side work over the years and now was working mostly offsite. Missing the camaraderie of working with a group of creatives, she decided to invite some of her agency friends to a happy hour at a favorite bar in Portland. She invited Jeremy, who went, met a bunch of great new people, and was more than thrilled to pitch in when Jala asked him to help turn this into a weekly event held at different drinking locales around the city.

Since both Jala and Jeremy were big Twitter users, they decided to hashtag the event, now called #thinkndrink, to let everyone know the location each week.

And the people started showing up. Sometimes six. Sometimes eight. Or 15.

And the event went viral. Creatives in Portland became curious when they saw the tweets from their friends and asked what it was all about. Jala and Jeremy replied, “It’s not really anything - we’re just getting together for happy hour.”

On their 2nd anniversary, which they just celebrated in November, they had more than 60 people at the bar.

Who shows up exactly? All sorts of creatives. Up-and-coming talent, creative directors, principals, developers, copywriters, UX designers, agency freelancers, client-side folks... essentially all the colors of the creative rainbow. People talk shop or about whatever’s on their mind, including the occasional completely inappropriate joke. (This is the advertising industry after all).

And now two years later, Jeremy has realized his original dream: the nucleus of his friends in Portland are amazing creative talent who have come from thinkndrink.

He believes what’s made the event so successful is its informality and inherent mysteriousness. Since it changes location from week to week, and no one else knows where it’s going to be held until the day before, or even sometimes that day, it builds anticipation as the week progresses.

As far as informality goes, he realizes that many other networking events have agendas, bring in speakers, and even go on field trips. He prefers the casual nature of just getting together on a Friday for a beer with friends and meeting any newcomers one-on-one. And clearly, he’s not alone.

If you’re a creative in the Portland area looking for a great, informal way to connect with other creative talent, hop on Twitter and check out #thinkndrink.

Hey, we’ll drink to that!
You can check out images from past thinkndrinks at their Flickr group.

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