A friend asked me to write a blog post on networking, because in her own words “I am not good at it at all!”….this is that blog post….
Here is a list of things I was bad at the first time I tried them (in no particular order):
Fighting (still am)
Spelling (still am)
Kissing (still am)
The real point of this is that no matter what you do…the first time you do it…you’re going to suck at it, but that’s not a valid excuse for not trying. I mean, shit, if I hadn’t tried having sex because I was afraid of being bad at it…I would have missed out on the 3 times I’ve actually done that….and that wouldn’t have been cool at all.
Advice for networking:
- Be aware that everyone at the event is actually a killer shark that if agitated WILL transform to it’s original life-form and detach your head from you body using only it’s razor sharp teeth…it’s awful…..so much blood…..
- There is no number 2
All kidding aside, it is very nerve racking the first couple times you go out. You focus on stupid things that don’t really matter:
- Should I say hi first?
- Should I give them my business card?
- OH GOD…do I have shit stuck in my teeth?
- Am I talking to them to long?
- Is this guy staring at my boobs? (I’ve never worried about this, but I’ve seen that look on women’s faces….I just naturally look at the floor when I talk to people….and I know it’s weird and awkward, because you think I’m some sort of weird pervert….but get over yourself, I don’t care about your boobs…except in October for breast cancer awareness month…BUT THAT’S IT!)
What you really need to do to network is to first realize that most of the people there, are there because they are looking to meet new people as well. For most people this still won’t settle the nerves. I recommend trying to get one or two people to go with you and help introduce you to the group (way more comfortable). Other strategies include having a drink to “take off the edge”. You can usually see these people at events….they V line to the bar, sipping on a cocktail for the first 30 minutes until the poison takes hold and they can loosen up their death grip on the bar.
I think for me a lot of the reason I know some of the people I do, is because I just really didn’t give a shit….
“That’s [insert name], he’s a big wig at [insert company]”
“Hmmm….he should probably know who I am. Hold my drink, I’ll be right back.”
I know that story is somewhat unbelievable, but the only lie in there was that they held my drink…they were holding my backup drink…..(sometimes it’s just easier to buy them 2 at a time).
Anyway and now for the closing argument….
The absolute worst thing that could happen, is you walk up to important person and start a conversation…20 minutes later a group of people start to approach…and they lean over and say “look, I don’t care one way or the other, but these people are going to come up to talk to me and you should probably know that your fly is down”.
To this day…..at every networking event….the Mayor of Dayton checks to make sure that my fly is up.
On the other hand…I think that Gary and I have become good friends because of this…so even the worst case scenario can end up benefiting you…
The whole trick is just to get your brain to convince your legs, and mouth to go along for the ride: walk up and say “Hi, I’m [insert name here]”…..the rest is easy.