5 Ways To Increase Your Network While Having Fun

by Mary-Margaret Walker

On Sunday night I finally cleared my evening so I could go to San Jose Skate for the adult skate night. It is possibly the best roller rink I have ever skated. I paid my entry fee and walked in the door and was greeted by two women who each gave me a squishy hug and took my entry ticket. Sure enough there was a sign next to them that said, “Give Red Ticket, Get Free Hug and have Fun.” It was delightful to be welcomed that way by strangers.

Photo courtesy of Chad Kainz

I put on my skates and the wrist and knee guards that Andrew (my husband) insists I wear and stepped out onto the rink. It was a glorious experience from beginning to end. The hugs raised my endorphins and I was ready for some fun. Once out on the floor, I was amazed to instantly recognize a very tight but not exclusive community. Beautiful skaters were turning and dancing on skates sometimes alone, sometimes with one of several partners (male and female) and sometimes in groups of three to ten dancing and skating around the floor in sync. No one stood out or seemed more special than anyone else. They were all having a great time.

Even though I arrived alone, I was immediately interacting with those around me and being received with kindness. One man made a turn in front of me and said, “Hi.” A woman sweetly said “on your right” as she skated past so we  wouldn't  collide. Another man touched my back as he skated past me to make sure I knew he was going to pass me without knocking me over. There were lots of smiles and welcoming looks. And last and best, was the man who came up behind me and embraced me with his arms to prevent knocking me over. Once he was certain I was stable he let go and kept skating. I knew what was happening when he enclosed me in his arms and it made me laugh. I felt incredibly, safe, protected and welcome. My skating skills  didn't  equal theirs but no one minded. They accepted me on the floor without prejudice.

Image Courtesy of Cambodia4Kids.org, Beth Kantor

The experience had me thinking about community and networks. I could see some incredible parallels to my guiding principles for networking and creating a community (online or in person).

1.  If you are part of the community already, observe the values of the community. Welcome newcomers graciously. Make allowances when they don’t know they’re in your way, and try not to roll right over them.

2.  Make connections with as many people as you can so you can become fully integrated with the community.

3.  Always keep in mind that you don’t need to try to know the most important people. In our community you don’t even have to know me to be welcomed. Eventually, as you meet people at all different skill levels you will find out just how important everyone becomes to you.

4.  Welcome people who want to know you. Remember that is a compliment not a chore.

5.  Make sure to exchange introductions, knowledge and experience with your connections. The more each individual’s network grows, the larger the entire network becomes.

As for San Jose Skate, I’ll be going back every Sunday and Thursday that I can. I want to be a part of this community and make new friends and fly around the rink. If you are in the area, come join me!

 

  *This article was originally published here.

Mary-Margaret Walker, CEO of Mary-Margaret Network (MMN), leads the game industry in retained “key-man” recruiting and Executive Career Consulting.   She launched her career at groundbreaking studios, Origin Systems and The 3DO Company where she quickly progressed from Game Designer and Design Manager to Manager of Studio Services. In addition, she created the first HR Department at Origin and oversaw the hiring of more than 200 employees at The 3DO Company.  In 1996 Mary-Margaret recognized an opportunity to leverage her worldwide network by becoming a recruiter. She launched Mary-Margaret Network, a company which conducts highly-targeted, retained searches and markets her clients’ corporate hiring needs while helping people at all levels of experience pursue a fulfilling career in the game industry.

  Mary-Margaret is committed to the success of the game industry through her founding memberships in IGDA and WIGI, many advisory positions, numerous articles, speaking engagements and webinars. She has also worked hard to broaden the appeal of careers in the industry by participating in many camps and workshops for kids of all ages, particularly girls. After spells in Los Angeles, London and Seattle, Mary-Margaret has recently returned to the Bay Area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Christian University and an M.B.A. from Sacred Heart University.