Relax. Breathe. Walk. Sometimes, networking happens when you least expect it.
I've been trying to get back into my habit of walking in the mornings, stepping outside just as soon as it's light enough for me to see my feet hit the ground. Living in a neighborhood that's rebuilding from the Texas fires that devastated our area, it's truly heartening to see homes being rebuilt, wildflowers returning, trees that are trying hard to hang onto their leaves and lives. Birds serenade and the sounds of hammers help me keep a walking rhythm.
From the very first day I moved into my house, I noticed another solitary woman who was doing the same thing I was - getting out to walk early to beat the heat. Upon rare occasions, we would pass each other on our separate journeys and say a simple, "Mornin'" to one another.
On one day recently, I took off on a new route (I get bored easily, so like a lot of variety and change in my life). I had a chance to see a different part of our area that is returning to a new normal. On my way out of the cul de sac, I found my sister stroller and ended up in step with her.
"It's going to take a lot for us to get our neighborhood back," she said. "Yes, it is, but we're making some progress, don't you think?" I replied. "I think so," she responded. "I've already begun planting my garden."
That opened up a conversation about which type of tomatoes would do best and whether we were planning to try cucumbers. How about beans? I was interested in knowing whether watermelons might be a potential mini-crop and if she had experienced any success with summer squash. Since she had lived in the neighborhood longer than I, she gave me some tips on what might do well.
We walked - and talked - together for about two blocks, chatting about seedlings, which nursery had the best variety, how best to hold up gangly tomato vines, never exchanging names nor talking about anything other than the vagaries of gardening in this place we lived in together.
Sometimes, F2F networking doesn't end up in a job offer nor a lifelong mentor. Sometimes, it's so informal and casual that you don't even need the name exchange.
Sometimes, it's all about Extra Sweetie versus Gardener's Delight cherry tomatoes.