For the fifth time in two weeks I walked into a room of strangers. I’ve been networking. It’s the hard work of introducing myself to as many people as possible, spurting the same 30 word/30 second bio and hoping the person’s face lights up.
The Kasie-Makes-a-Living-Being-Kasie Networking Tour began two weeks ago with a series of Chamber of Commerce events.
I also went to the ITPSC luncheon, a Tech After 5 event, the ASTD Chapter Meeting, and made a gallant effort to attend the Social Media Club of Columbia’s Thursday night meeting in the Vista. But, come on, people, the corner of Park and Gervais at 7 p.m. on a Thursday?
I would have needed 90 minutes to find parking. I bailed.
Anyway, this week I went to an open mic poetry reading at the Red Door Tavern on State Street. I was invited by my Columbia Writers’ Alliance buddy John Starino.
The headlining poet was Dayna Smith. It all felt very theatre, very improv-y at first and I expected some quaintness to the readings. It was anything but quaint.
Dayna Smith’s poetry was charged with defiance and anger and frustration. She let her passion free and I imagined it galloping through the room like the black smoky horses of Jude Law’s Boogeyman nightmares.
She was breathtaking.
I hear, even now, the alternating mystery and swell of theatrical music a la Lord of the Rings when she spoke. Deep, aching pauses followed by swift, hard consonant crescendos.
I felt changed. Connected.
Beyond smiles and handshakes and 30 second bios, a real need to connect exists in all of us. It’s that desire to be understood that we take out and shake off whenever we perform or create. But in everyday life we hide that need away. We accept grocery store aisle squeaks “excuse me” and tweets and Facebook thumbs-ups to be considered conversation.
I’d been doing so much smiling and hand shaking that I thought I was out there. I thought with my noisy social media and my LinkedIn-ed-ness I was really making myself available.
But the primary requirement for real connection is vulnerability. We must be open, listening, interested, and ready to be changed. And that takes courage.
I cannot express anything but gratitude to Dayna Smith for her bravery. The only thing I could give her in return was my willingness to be changed.