Non-expert Networking Advice for Introverts.
Our head of creative, Allan Noy, joined the podcast to discuss the Digital Media Conference and networking for introverts, like himself
- Allan Noy
- 23 mins
Tom: Hello and welcome to Episode 20 of the Make Things Better podcast. Today I'm joined by our head of Creative Allan Noy and we are going to have a bit of a chat about networking and about the Digital Media Conference.
So welcome on Allan. How are you doing today?
Allan: I am good. It is hot in Sheffield. It has been hot the past few days. It's like living in Australia here. Well, not quite. Living in Australia if it was slightly cooler and not Australia.
Tom: I actually heard it's hotter here than Australia right now, like quite a lot hotter.
Allan: Is it?
Allan: Well they're having their winter, so yeah.
Tom: That does kind of make sense. Yeah, very good point. So yeah, let's talk a bit about this event that you went to recently, do you want to start off by telling us what it was and how was it.
Allan: Yes, I want to do also an apology to the audience, because my mind is a bit frazzled. There was so much to do and so much things to do. And I'd like to thank the people at the conference for putting all that on.
It was definitely influential. So I went as a sort of a bit more of a fact finding mission on my part because I wanted to expand Hive's audience and I wanted to understand what children are watching, children want from TV and media, what are the pitfalls, that type of stuff.
And I think, what this conference provided was the platform to be able to talk to the people about these things and about these interesting subjects and to get their insights on how they're coping with the things, like how they're figuring out funding and how they're figuring out how to attract kids who may be more neurodiverse than their normal audience.
And I think that was the crux of this conference was meeting people, understanding people. There was a lot of pitching as well that was happening. That was interesting. That was also another like learning factor of how to pitch to some of the bigger companies and what what they find attractive in a particular thing which is useful from a business sense.
Yeah, because next week I'll be pitching for another job anyway. So that was a definitely a bonus add on. But yeah, it was all interesting and I'm afraid it was just like so much good stuff.
And they've had, they also had change makers in. And so these are kids that like, you know, change the world or are doing some great things in their life. So like, you know, we've had that. Oh, I've forgotten the name.
I think it's Anwar from Britain's Got Talent (Aneeshwar Kunchala). He's kind of the kid that talks about conservation and protecting our planet. And then we had some other people like from everything from TikTok to everything.
And it was just interesting to see how, well, how out of touch I was for most of it, and how I really need to gain better knowledge of what's happening to Gen A, which is a term I've just learned over that conference, which is the generation after Gen Z.
Tom: That's new to me.
Allan: Gen A are the ones that will be growing up with like with the metaverse being there all the time. They would have grown up with that idea of Fortnite or Roblox from the start and then seen where that develops.
And I mean, like there's a lot of hubbub about whether, you know, web 3.0 and metaverse and how those old people are going, 'Ooh, I don't know if this is going to work', but it turns out like it doesn't matter because if it's the future and the kids are adopting it already, it doesn't really matter on that front.
But overall, the conference was mainly about getting as many Instagram contacts as you can. It was almost Pokemon Go, but you do meet a lot of interesting people there and I think it was talking to writers, animators it was talking to educators researchers, a lot of them, producers. And then the big cheeses, the commissioners for the big channels, like CBBC, ITV and all those type of things. And that was great, just finding out all that insight.
And then there was a lot of talk about kids coming out of the pandemic, and I think that was a big subject for them. It's like we've just had that pandemic and these kids have been lost in a sort of way.
And the content people are looking for are looking at inclusion and mindfulness and looking after yourself and more of those sort of mental health life skills that people should be having, not just children but adults as well.
I think we could learn a lot from that type of stuff. But yeah, you know, helping them get back on their feet and getting socialized again and talking to people. Because they have lost years.
They've lost years. So I think that was another big subject.
Tom: Yeah. So what would you say you have learned from this conference then?
Allan: The big one. I've learned that I am terrible at networking. I don't know whether that's I was always terrible at networking or whether that was because the pandemic absolutely destroyed my small talk because I couldn't think of anything to talk about half the time.
What did you do? I was in my house. There wasn't much to do.
I've talked to the same people for the past two years, so yeah, it was really good getting out and I think just taking that first step was the most scariest. Like just going up to someone and going, 'Hello'.
And doing that was scary. Though you do find out that everyone else is pretty much in the same boat. A lot of people I was talking to was like, 'Yeah, I'm really bad at this sort of networking and schmoozing my way.'
Like, a lot of people find it natural to do, but I don't. I think one person suggested to always look for people that sort of have an open group. So they're like standing outwards. They're looking for other people to join that group. Don't bother joining groups that are sort of already in a huddle or together. That was the tip I got, which was a pretty good tip.
And then digital business cards, I had not used a digital business card in a long time.
Tom: What's that? Is that like on LinkedIn?
Allan: Yeah so LinkedIn have a sort of QR code now. Like now since the pandemic, everyone's used to scanning a QR code, so you can just pull up a QR code and let the other person scan it on their phone and it pulls it up on their phone.
There's also an app called HiHello, which lets put all your details in and that also just has a QR code and you scan it and they get the full whack.
Like your face. Your LinkedIn, your Instagram, your Facebook, your website, everything in one job lot. And they can do with that what they will.
Tom: Yeah networking is changing fast. Last time I went to like a networking event, that whole LinkedIn, like barcode thing was new to me and I got chatting to some people and they were saying that at some event you could literally just turn Bluetooth on, go up to someone near you and if they had like Bluetooth and this app as well, it would just like automatically connect you both. And that is so creepy because like imagine if you went up to like someone who like you really wanted to get to know who's maybe a bit famous or something like you could, you know, just go connect with them so quickly.
But you'd literally be like creeping up to them, possibly without even talking to them at all and then connecting online.
Allan: I think you definitely still have to ask.
I mean, I'm still asking can I add you?
Tom: Oh for sure.
Allan: But yeah, that that sounds way too creepy. Like you already feel a bit weird going up to random people and almost like, almost like collecting them like pokemon like pokemon cards like, yeah, I've got you, I've got you.
But yeah, I think the other piece of advice I was always given was just make friends and just talk to people. I don't try to sell anything. Just find out more about them and what they do and things just happen naturally.
Like, I'm quite introverted, well, less extroverted than most people. And so it takes a lot of energy for me, then I run out of energy really quickly. So I do need like recharge time.
So I advise anyone that's a little low on the extroversion to do these in short sporadic runs because you will soon drain your battery in like a few hours. So, you know. Go out there, talk to as many people as you can, make friends, and then maybe step back a bit, recharge yourself and maybe even step back to your hotel room or wherever you're staying and just sort of recharge and then back out.
Tom: Yeah. How did you find this one? Like in terms of your energy levels and everything? Did it feel like it did take some of your energy away from you this week?
Yes. I think I am zapped. Like talking to so many different people, it was fun. Definitely. Like, obviously it was. Don't get me wrong, it is fun. It's not a job. It's crazy to think like, 'Oh, networking. You got to do the networking, find out these people'. But like it is also very interesting to just meet people and learn about what they do.
Like you meet people from Barcelona, for example, an educator in Barcelona talking about one particular thing or someone who's created like a music program for Neurodivergent people. So that's interesting. It was really nice to be able to do all those things.
But yeah, if you're a bit, as I said, more on the introvert side of the extroversion scale, it does drain you. I admire people who just get a lot of energy from meeting people. But yeah, just step to the side a bit, maybe set yourself a little space, pop to a coffee shop and have a drink by yourself and then jump back in. And I assure you, and you've always been told, like there are other people there that are in exactly the same boat as you.
They are just as anxious about all this talking to other people and making new friends and trying to find something to talk about and that type of stuff. But yeah, it is tough and I think it's just practice I think and especially after this pandemic when most people all they've been talking to are other people on their screens, which is a lot easier because you're in your comfort zone around here, you are in your house. You can talk like for days because it doesn't matter. You're in your own room. You could turn the chat off. You can go on mute.
There's a lot of safety nets on that, that type of thing. Whereas if you're like you're in face to face, there is no like, you know, you're not sat in your living room and you're not, you haven't got the chance to just go 'I'll just mute myself or turn the camera off while I walk away and come back to the conversation.' You can't do that. And I think that's another thing. I think as a lot of people come out of lockdowns and pandemics, they've started to have to interact with people.
And I think people are just finding it hard to adjust with small talk, just talking to people and going, 'I've run out of things to say. Not much has happened over my life for the last two years.'
How did you find it then? Like actually getting up and chatting to people. Like, how was that experience in the end?
Allan: I think you just needed a little bit of like courage and a kick up the bum. I think when it comes to that.
But just saying 'Hello, hi' always good to start a conversation. I found like if you ever remember doing those, if you did French or Spanish or foreign language lessons when when you were a kid, those things that they teach you like, 'hello, how are you?'
'How is the world today? How is it? How are you finding it?' And the fact that like I think what's advantageous is like if you got something to talk about that's quite common like a conference generally does, like, you know, you could talk about the next talk or what were you going to see or what you're looking forward to.
That acts as a nice little icebreaker as opposed to anything else. I mean, like coming out of the blue, showing genuine interest, that's always good. I always find sometimes I struggle to show genuine interest on some stuff.
Like especially for a lot more of the techie stuff. So it's really hard to do some, some of the same stuff in tech.
Yeah, that's about it. I only know the title. I don't know what it is, what it does or anything. But maybe you can explain it to me, but yeah, that's the world.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. And you had some good, like, conversations though this time around?
Allan: Yes, there was. Just trying to remember. I think even the first day when I was there, I was just talking to people who, you know, did animations about inclusion or even get recommendations on like, you know, new things to check out.
Or I think one thing I learned someone told me is like, neurodivergent tend to prefer cool colors in their apps. And I was like, that is a very good piece of information considering some of the work Hive does.
And that's what the type of the nuggets I was looking for because like obviously we are not in this market at the moment and it was kind of yeah, we're finding out whether, you know, maybe we could consider looking at doing apps for children, learning education apps, that type of stuff, could be a market, could be something, and that was the whole intention of going out there.
So I think I was lucky because I wasn't trying to sell anything to a producer or have a show behind my back that I needed to push, that I could just ask questions about everything and being like a complete beginner, give me sort of full right to be able to ask the really dumb questions like, 'So what is that? Or what are these regulations? Or how do you do that?'. I think that's probably the other tip I'd give for anyone that was networking, it would be just enter a conversation with an empty cup you know, let them fill your cup up with knowledge. You just walk in neutral, ask the beginner questions, just ask questions. And people are happy to help out most of the time. Most of the time I remember.
But then you don't want to be around those grumpy people who don't want to help you out. So you know, know loss to you just you know, doing that and I think that's that's the best way to approach these things.
Tom: Yeah. So in a way, it's like approaching these networking events with the approach of 'I'm not here to like necessarily get anything from anyone, but if I could learn something, maybe that'd be really, really great.' You know, like I'm not after selling anything.
I just want to learn from other people. And I think, you know, there's an opportunity there to just be really interested and inquisitive. And I personally love meeting new people and I think with that kind of event. You know, especially if it's something that you want to get into in the future.
Like there's just a lot of opportunity there to learn from people who have a few more skills in something that you are interested in. So yeah.
Allan: Yeah. And plus it's just making those connections in the long run, I think it's just helpful.
I know a lot of the connections I made, especially in the education sectors and especially with a lot of the writers and some of the animators and couple of composers every so often, I know for a fact that in the future we will come up with an app that requires, I don't know, some music and I have those people at hand or a story to write. I have those people at hand. Or there's some research on education that may be useful for a particular project. Or just to have a fresh set of eyes on a particular project.
All those things are just invaluable. And making connections again is invaluable. Plus, a massive news story came out over the last couple of days that everyone managed to talk about.
So there was there was another start to a conversation.
Tom: I don't what you are on about, what news story (Said jokingly as Boris had resigned)
We probably shouldn't talk about politics on this podcast too much but yeah I guess that does make it a lot easier to have a conversation if you've got breaking news like so anyway, should we wrap this up then.
If you were to provide like one tip on networking from your experience, obviously you've said yourself you're not an expert on this, but just from your experience, what would that be to anyone who's a bit apprehensive about going to an event?
Allan: There are more people in the same boat as you than you realize.
There's definitely a lot more people who are just as anxious as you and just as uncomfortable as talking to other people. So try and be their friends. Try and help them out, and maybe in the long run they'll help you out.
Like it's always good to just find some people that may be a bit apprehensive and just have a chat with them. And then you've got a buddy, then you've got two people and you feel a little better about going forward.
And I think it's just that it's just jumping in leap of faith style and getting started. And then you'll find that it's pretty, like people like to be friends and like to be nice to each other.
What's the worst that could happen? And the more you do it, the better you get at it is essentially what we got.
Tom: Yeah, I'm terrible at this kind of thing. Like networking. Well, I don't know if terrible is the right word.
I think maybe really you should go into this without any judgement of yourself, like whether I am good or I am bad. And just having a really open mind, you know?
Allan: Yeah. The empty cup, which I've stolen from Bruce Lee.
But it's the empty cup you walk in with an empty cup. If you walk in with preconceptions and a full cup, you're not going to get anything out of it. Like you're not going to fill it with new knowledge, you're not going to fill it with new friends, you're not going to fill it with anything.
So just walk in with an empty cup and be that beginner and just listen. I think someone told me the best thing you can do is ask questions and just listen. Actively listen to someone. People like being listened to, people like talking about themselves.
So just asking those questions and letting them do the chat for you. Yeah, it's a lot easier.
Tom: Yeah, absolutely. Allan I don't think I asked you this last time we had a podcast, over a year ago now the first ever episode.
Allan: It was the premiere
Tom: Yeah, this is this is the big exclusive 20th episode as well so it is a bit of a milestone.
But yeah anyway, so what can people do to make things better?
Allan: Oh, I have sat through a lot of the other podcasts and they've all said very, very similar things.
And so I'm going to try and think of something that's a little different from what has been said before, because those are all good things. And definitely my go to. But I think what could make things better is reflecting on what we have done and then acting on that.
I think we need to sometimes stop and reflect on what we're doing to the world or what we're doing to each other or even just yourself and take that time to reflect and then move forward and learn from those reflections.
That is probably your best bet. At all times. And that way you always check in with yourself and your world around you.
Tom: In a practical sense, how would you recommend someone goes about doing that?
Allan: In a practical sense, just sit down in a nice, quiet space and I think just take that space.
It's almost like a mindful space for yourself. Take that space in time. Slow the world down for a bit. It could be on your bus commuting to work. It can be your walk to work. It can be your cycle ride.
Something where you're not, you know, handling heavy machinery or anything or doing anything, or you can even just be sat in a cafe with a coffee and just sit there for just five, 10 minutes and just reflect on what life has been.
Just time to check in with yourself for a bit. I think that's ultimately important, not only for the good of everything else, because it helps you understand maybe oh, maybe I hurt that person's feelings when I did that.
Or maybe I was a bit rude about that. Or it just helps you check in with yourself and your body and keep you present. So like a mindful state, I guess, and I guess this is just old stuff that everyone knows but never does.
So practically just take 5-10 minutes every day. It could be listening to your favorite song or dancing away or anything. Just take that time to sort of sit there and reflect just a little bit.
Tom: Nice. Nice, I love that, that's great advice.
So I think that concludes today's episode. Thanks so much for coming on Allan. I really appreciate your time. Thanks for watching or listening. I hope you have enjoyed today's episode and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day.
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