By Trent Rentsch
It’s one of my favorite scenarios... a lone warrior, standing on a blood-soaked battlefield, facing down evil that outnumbers him 100 to 1. Despite the odds, despite crippling injuries, he stands tall... head high, a gleam in his eye, a smile on his lips. How brave must a human be to face their fate this way? We won’t know, because just as the King of Evil is about to order the final killing stroke, there is a rumble in the distance, the blast of a horn, a battle roar. The warrior is no longer alone, the cavalry has arrived... and suddenly evil is outnumbered, 10,000 to 1.
The scene has come to mind often in the past year. Even at the best of times, I’m tough on myself. You can imagine what months of job hunting has done to my head. But I haven’t been allowed the option of pounding myself too badly, thanks to my own personal cavalry. My wife and army of friends have always seemed to be there right when I needed them; to offer encouragement, to catch me when I started falling.
Enough of the big, dramatic opening. The point is, friendship is a powerful thing. Just a few minutes ago, I was brainstorming this very column and getting nowhere. I clicked on Twitter for a few moments distraction, and made a snarky comment about my case of “Idea Block.” 2 minutes later, my phone was ringing. “What are you working on?” It was Tommie, my “brother from another mother.” He saw I had a problem, he immediately responded. The time didn’t matter, the miles didn’t matter. He’s my friend, and he wanted to help.
Before this devolves into a chorus of, “That’s What Friends Are For,” let’s talk about the Creative process. Another scenario comes to mind... a tiny, darkened room, a lonely figure crouched over a worn desk, white-knuckling a pencil, a face drenched in anguish. With a growl of frustration, the Creative snaps the pencil, rips up the paper, and tips back a bottle, as assumed failure rains down in paper shreds. It’s another dramatic scene, but it’s not accurate... or at least, it doesn’t have to be.
The radio blood-letting continues. Those still employed need to do more with less... and less... and less. Yeah, we’ve been down this road before, you and I. But here’s the good news... we are not alone.
Networking, it’s not just for corporate execs any more. I’m sure you’re already all over Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn... all of that, but are you really getting everything you can out of all your social networks? There’s potential for a lot more than finding out “which 70’s kitchen appliance” you are. While I’ve enjoyed re-connecting with old friends and keeping up those I’m near to now, I’ve also made connections with people I’ve never met and probably wouldn’t have without these sites. These people are Creatives with their own unique abilities and styles; some are in radio, others work in different Creative mediums. I’m not going to tell you that much of our interaction isn’t about a lot of superficial silliness these sites produce, but there are times when it’s more... much more.
I already told you about Tommie’s quick response to my need, but what I didn’t tell you is that this isn’t the first time it’s happened... and that Tommie wasn’t the first to do it. “Virtually” surrounding yourself with Creative souls means you always have someone to talk to about... whatever. Need a copy idea for a car dealership? Have copyright questions? Or maybe you’re simply having one of those days... whether you need practical advice or a sympathetic ear, you’ll have it. All you have to do is ask.
There is another important piece to this connection puzzle; probably the most important piece... GIVING! Just like any other relationship in life, those made on social networks require both give and take. These connections are only as good, as strong as what you put into them. I’ll admit this one is tough for me; not everyone is a natural giver. But let’s go back to the “real” relationships in our lives, our “real” friends, the close ones. If they had a problem, you’d be there for them without hesitation, right? Just like they’d be there for you. It’s really no different when developing relationships on social networks.
I’ve been told that the connections made on social networks aren’t “really friends.” It’s true, not everyone I’ve added to my networks has provided me with help or love or even a measly “tag” on their “list of favorite bar stools,” but like people you meet face to face, there are some who are there when I need help... and I try to be there for them. Sounds like a friend to me. Yes, the world has changed, but some of the changes have been positive. And some of the changes have assured that you’ll never have to stand alone.