Don’t hire me, hire my friends, I say. Minutes before, a person suddenly appeared by my side and asked to work with me. Why? Because I pulled out an enormous DLSR camera complete with onboard microphone, to photograph an unusual necklace.
I am attending the VIP #brunch for an awards ceremony. This is the fourth year I have been in attendance – the first year I was a winner, the subsequent years a judge. And that is how I met these two ladies, because I judged both of them in teen activist categories. And? They both won.
The last month has been simply extraordinary. From speaking at the United Nations to watching my college team win the NCAA championships for the second year in a row, and then attending my fourth Shorty Awards four days ago, my mind and heart are full. I have been thinking and processing all of these events as I race between sick kids and the grocery store, and I have come to one conclusion. The only reason why I was present at any of them was because someone took a chance on me each time.
I do not have huge social media numbers. The largest following I have ever had was 30,000, back when hurricanes kept flooding the town where I live. And now, my numbers are much lower. Why? Because I fled from the spotlight. I thrive on human connection. Interaction. Intimacy. And there was a time when I was getting stopped constantly on the street by people who had shared memorable moments with me. And? I could not remember them. It turns out that my memory has a ceiling. And even though I have always been good at remembering faces and personal details, I was forgetting almost everyone I interacted with because there were just too many of them. That experience terrified me. And I swore never to let it happen again.
So what does that mean? In a social media world where numbers count, at a glance I do not fit in. I attend events where everyone else in attendance has follower counts that are ten to 100 times as large as mine. So why do I get invited, and treated as an equal? Because I have forged a bond with an organizer. At some point in the recent past, I have done something that made them want to take a chance and include me. And every time, I come away with new close bonds. Those people are the reason why I do what I do. And that is why I tell sponsors not to hire me. I am not what they are looking for. But my friends? Often are.
Kathy Zucker is an international social media Shorty Award winner, mother of three and a startup founder at companies including the Metro Moms Network®.