Yesterday, I enjoyed a brief respite from work to play softball for my Broadway Show League team. During a post-victory conversation with a teammate, I mentioned I was on my way to a meeting with my writing partners for a new children's musical project. My teammate just happened to know a higher-up in the children's musical world, and thus, smack dab in Central Park, a connection — or the promise of one — was made.
The lesson here? My teammate had NO IDEA that in addition to being a freelance business writer, I am also a songwriter, let alone that I have children's songs in my repertoire.
This is a perfect example of what I call Pockets of Information. And they need to be emptied.
Don't assume that answering the question "What do you do?" (WDYD) with a job title is enough to spark a connection in the mind of the person to whom you are speaking, especially if you are in business for yourself. In fact, if you answer that initial question confidently (which you always should), then that person may assume that you are all set in your profession and aren't seeking new clients. You also should share more about your other interests, but I'll say more on that in a couple paragraphs.
I'd say a better way to answer the WDYD question (using myself as an example) is, "I'm a freelancer writer and consultant for Web and print, and I'm always seeking new clients in small businesses, corporate clients, even individuals."
As the conversation continues, you should then try to work in any other passions you are pursuing (in my case, this would be my songwriting). Side jobs or businesses, even extracurriculars, can lead to tangental conversations, which are great breeding grounds for expanding your network.
If you own a business with a storefront, that's one thing, because people can see what you do. But if you have additional businesses or are an independent contractor of any kind who keeps the other sides of you deep in your pockets, few people will be able to guess them. By opening your mouth, you open your work and your interests to a new world of possibilities.
So get out there and get talking! Get on Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn to share your likes and dislikes, your passions and your strengths. You'll be stronger for it.
In Part II, I'll discuss how Pockets of Information affect business teams.
Thanks for reading,