After university, I estimated that I got to know of at least 600 people. I was on campus every day and I was out almost all the time. Whether it was in the edit suites, the library or the bar. I used to sit indoors with the bags as a non-smoker but within weeks I dressed for the English winter and started to stand outside, warmly dressed.
I went from being a solitary person looking after a table and belongings to short ten to fifteen-minute conversations with several dozen people a night. Such a process is a good way of getting to know people and to learn of projects that you want to work on.
That’s why you go to the edit suites, radio studios and other places. You have the opportunity to chat with people and to learn more about their projects and about technologies that you may not play with for your profession. That’s also when people asked me for help with editing. “How do I do this?”, “How do you do that?”, “Can we work together on that project”.
In post-university life it’s much harder to meet people and socialise like this. On the one hand, the pool of people is much larger. You’re dealing with thousands of people, rather than hundreds. You also need to find places where there are groups to connect with.
For a while, social media filled this role. So does work where you’re in the real world rather than the virtual. I see office life as virtual because when you’re working in an office you’re not meeting people in person. You don’t have the same opportunities for friendships.
Recently I’ve been volunteering at Geneva-based events to meet new people and see interesting projects. It’s a series of events where we’re needed for three or four hours every few days. It’s great if you want free access to an event but I find that it lowers the chance to meet people.
The best events to volunteer for or participate in are those where people are present for the entire time of the event. You meet them at the stands, you meet them at the drinks and other events, and you meet them in the evening. It’s a way of becoming a close group, even if just for a week. It did result in follow up projects.
I would love to work where I’m in the real world, meeting people and collaborating with a number of teams in person rather than by e-mail or over the phone. In a recent contract, an entire unit came to my end of contract drinks. That doesn’t happen every time.