Successful Networking: Specific Ingredients for Success in this Industry

By Cosette Strong

In this edition of our interview feature series conducted monthly, I will give you a window into chats with Clem as he shares his thoughts about a number of things, namely 2020s continued impact on our new normal and how specific best practices have contributed to his network and success. This interview took place via a virtual video chat while I was in Ohio and Clem was walking near his home in Florida.

Cosette: During our last chat we talked about networking and how important it is to cultivate good relationships, not only to maintain human connection but potentially to bring about business opportunities for self and others. Talk to me about a relationship that’s important to you and  that’s been an example of that.

Clem: Omar Colom, someone who was a mentee of mine, started an organization called AV Educate. We are on the same mission, the same path, to want to help improve our industry and provide platforms where people can learn how to manage their careers better. So where I’m approaching things from the independent contractor, business, lifestyle, management angle, Omar is focusing on providing technical education for independent contractors in our field. We’ve known each other for years – he joined my VPSG Facebook group, he’s done video projection training with me, and we’ve collaborated on other things as well. Because of our trusted relationship, I’ve even hired Omar for jobs. He’s now creating content on livestreaming and helping people learn the equipment needed to produce virtual events. Omar’s goal is to teach people how to transition and do a career in a way they weren’t previously. 

Cosette: [nodding] And how does that connect to relationships and networking?

Clem: Omar and his team have created the AV Tech Talk Summit, which will take place this July and I’ll actually be speaking there. All of that is an example of leveraging your network to create opportunities, jobs, and to provide education. It started with a friendship, a bond, and an opportunity for one person to assist another. And from that, another person understanding how they can assist the other and continue to move forward.

Cosette: When did you first understand how to leverage your network for job opportunities?

Clem: Well last month we talked about Steve Uhlmer, how important that relationship has been to me and how that’s come around full circle. But another, is my relationship with a client of mine, Performance Paradigm. When doing work for that client and helping meet their needs, I realized that I may not be the best person for specific jobs or tasks. So, I connected with someone in my network, Chris “Chili” Horton. He introduced me to Gabe Davis, who introduced me to Donnie Crawford. That’s all an expansion of my network of wonderful camera operators and we’re able to provide services for a client. This generates income for the techs but also generates continued job opportunities for my business.  

Cosette: What are some tried-and-true best practices — 

Clem: — Oh, you mean “The CLEM Factor”?

Cosette: [laughs] Yeah! What would you say to someone about how to leverage their network?

What do you do to maintain it so that you can leverage it?

Clem: Yeah – l… I really just enjoy staying in touch and connecting with people. I love being of service to others. Then, I build connections and bonds and try to find ways to assist and help. [looks at the camera] That’s my heart and intention. Not everyone is like that, but it’s been beneficial to me and my career. I feel like I’ve received benefits from others willing to help and assist me; Why wouldn’t I want to do that for others and build relationships? Having connection points and threads allows me to see where and how someone can fit. The thing is a network isn’t always about earning money – it’s about going through the journey of life together and being an integral part of someone else’s story.

Cosette: So… “The CLEM Factor” – being of service and a part of someone else’s journey, love of people, all of that…[laughs] What about someone who —

Clem: [laughs] — doesn’t like people? [laughs harder]

Cosette: [joins in again] Yeah! 

Clem: You know… I [sighs]… can only speak from my lived experience right now. I know people who don’t enjoy talking to people. You may not like people or like to go out and operate the same way as someone like me would, but if you build a close enough connection to one person who has a strong enough network, then that person’s network is your network as well.[Clem walks along the path and pauses for a few seconds, thinking.] What is that factor…. What is that factor? You know what? Being a hard worker. Being organized. Disciplined. Being willing – striving to do your best. Definitely that. When I was pledging my fraternity, Christopher J. Harris taught me, “A task once begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.” So in everything I do, I try to do it to the best of my ability, and I truly believe that people should have that same mindset. Especially when you’re doing something you love! If you’re doing that, it’s easier. Then you don’t have regret and frustration, but you’re willing to fight for it and turn things upside down because of your love for something and desire to succeed. I believe in fighting for what I want and if you want to have a successful career, you’ll be determined and fight for it as well.

Cosette: At the beginning we talked about Omar and this AV Tech Talk Summit he created. Tell me a little bit about where the formulation of that idea came from… I know, previously, you and I talked about an event in the near future you’d like to sponsor.

Clem: Yes, you and I discussed an idea I had to create a job networking opportunity experience, but you know what? You know I’m a faith-based individual, and I believe God works in the ways He works. AND…you and I both know – I already have A LOT on my plate. 

Cosette: [smiles] — Yes.

Clem: In understanding that, and recognizing how God works, I talked about doing something in July, but then, Omar reached out to me about speaking at his event in July. It’s an example of something that was already in my head and heart but God was saying, “Dude, really? You’re doing the most right now. You’re doing —

Clem/Cosette: [at the same time] too much. [both laugh.]

Clem: Exactly! #TeamTooMuch. I’ve always been that type of person, but I have to realize I don’t always have to be the one to do the work. I can support the work and contribute to the work. Omar and his team can do that work while I focus on other work. Omar has the desire to educate technicians from the skillset perspective. That is what is helping them to generate money, especially in a time when live events aren’t happening the way they were. This allows people to skill up to be more marketable. For me it’s understanding my role, Omar’s role, where we are on our journeys, then partnering to help promote what he and his team have created – The AV Tech Talk Summit. Even in a summit, a convention, or just going to lunch, it’s a networking opportunity. Shoot, going for a walk like I am now is a networking opportunity. If I stop to talk to someone along the way, we are networking. You can’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do what’s necessary for your success.

Stepping out of our comfort zones during this time of continued transition is a challenge. Coming back stronger and working to regain what may have been lost is one as well. Navigating these challenges, though, is necessary if we’re to progress through the end of this global pandemic. Upskilling to get back in the game will be instrumental. Leveraging the resilience we’ve developed over the last year and learning from any missteps will be as well. Join me next month as Clem and I discuss how to take a misstep and turn it into a learning opportunity for a better you and more success in this industry.