Picture this: eleven sorority sisters descend upon the Deschutes River in Maupin,OR for a rafting weekend to celebrate their ten-year anniversary of pledging together. Kind of a big deal, right? Yes, you are correct. It was. Though, while on this trip, I learned a valuable lesson from a river rafting guide, and it wasn’t just how not to drown if/when I fall out of our raft on a class 4.
In between rapids, we were able to enjoy some gorgeous scenery, glassy water, and conversation that ranged from life updates to mindless chatter. At one point, our guide inquired about what sort of work we were all in. We took turns explaining, going around the boat and offering up our titles and (if necessary) brief descriptions of what we did. I thought nothing of it, figuring he was just making conversation.
Someone commented to our guide about how cool it must be to meet so many different people in his job. He responded by whole-heartedly agreeing and acknowledging that when he asked us what we all did, he was networking.
Wait, what? Cue the record scratch.
I didn’t think I’d hear that word this weekend! What do you mean, you’re networking? We’re on a boat! We’re wearing life vests! I smell like sunscreen! You’re trying to network with me?
Turns out, he wasn’t just trying, he successfully did it. It wasn’t formulaic, it didn’t feel obvious or forced, it was just people getting to know each other in an enjoyable setting. That can technically count as networking, right? It opened my eyes a bit (okay, a lot). Lesson learned: networking can come in all shapes and forms and it doesn’t have to include a nametag, business cards, or a handshake.
Side note: I wonder if I can convince our director that I should go “networking” again this weekend on the Deschutes…