Guest Posts

Networking 101 or mistakes I made networking the other night

By  | 

Networking 101?

Last night I attended a mixer and woke up at 5 am worrying that I came off like that man of mystery in those Dos Equis commercials.  No, wait.  He’s the “Most Interesting Man in the World.”  How can someone be so interesting for so long?  He must be also “The Most Tired Man in the World Who Oftentimes Needs a Disco Nap Before He Goes Out Into the World.”

I don’t want to come off like that guy. stay thirsty

But, like he says “Stay thirsty my friends.”  Which reminds me: I’m staying thirsty next time. I will keep my drinks to 1 alcoholic bevy. No more ordering two chardonnays. I got two stares for paying out-of-pocket for that second glass. Nothing says restraint more than turning down one. I’ll opt for club soda and call it a night.

But then, as I drifted back to sleep, my mind sang a lullaby of the top ten things I can improve on:

1. Develop the meta awareness of a stand up comedian.

–Comedians know before they get cat called or booed that they are choking. It’s not a good feeling, but they constantly analyze what they are paying attention to.  That’s meta awareness–not paranoia.  It’s a skill set that is great to develop and, in some ways “thinking about how we think about our awareness” of body language (and other non-verbal communication) will give me a clue the next time I am connecting–or not connecting–with someone at an event.

2. Find common ground.

–When schmoozing, it’s good to get information out of people and find out what they like before getting into shop talk.  I connected with two people after asking them what places they liked best and what recommendations they’d make.  They’re internet professionals–it’s the best travel advice.  However, I slowed the conversation with my wacky stories of how I got lost at the Louvre.  How barbaric of me!

3. If you have friends there, catch up with them later.

–You don’t want to come off like a deviant cheerleader clique, right?

4. But, by all means, be the connector and immediately introduce your colleague as the hottest thing to come out of a library in years.

–I did so and it got the organization another library tour!  Yippee!

5. Roll with them punches until the bell rings:  Listening first makes it easy for everyone plus, you come out a champ for taking it in like a seasoned fighter.

–Ever see a fighter in the ring just take punches so he could tire out his opponent?  Since I like to jump into convos and interrupt them, I devised a coping mechanism for better listening by imagining I am taking punches in order for the other person to tire out so that I can take my turn.  Taking turns is civil.  And, I’ve found out that people can’t spend the entire evening talking about themselves unless they are narcissistic.

6. Rope people into the conversation. Leave no wall flower behind.

–As me and two other people were talking, I noticed a person (literally) leaning in on our conversation.  So, I introduced myself, and the other two.  I caught her up to speed, by saying, “We’re talking about travel, you do much?”

7.  What to wear?  I always talk about style and comfort, so I’ll do it here:  Never wear 4 inch heels if you cannot run a marathon in them.

–I made the mistake of going to an AIDS benefit one time in 6 inch stilettos, skinny jeans, a slinky top and vintage earrings.  My hair perfectly cropped.  But those heels.  I was blistering.  Whimpering.  I was walking the floor as if some child was “pretend” walking me through her dollhouse.  No one I talked to really wanted to talk about anything else but how high those shoes were or while it looked great it was unwise to wear them.  A friend razzed, “GUUUURL you got to pull them off!”  I replied, “I thought I was pulling it off.”  He said, “No, girl, take them off of your feet.”

8.  Networking events?  Think of them like going to an interview with multiple interviewers with a dash of booze and food.

–That being said, I know I have horrible table manners when it comes to eating meat off bone.  While civilized folk cut the meat away from the bone leaving juicy meat behind, I cannot let such a thing happen between me and cooked protein like that.  Sure enough they had fabulous ribs at the mixer.  I piled only the ribs on (and forewent the other platters) and slunk into a corner gnawing on the ribs like a rabid dog.   I think people stayed away from sitting next to me until my prey was totally consumed.

So, if you are going to eat:  pick the daintiest item, swallow quietly and, pull it off like Audrey Hepburn does at the end of “My Fair Lady.”

Of course, my other friend didn’t think it was like going to a job interview:  she already has a killer library job–but, she did think the advice was good.

9.  Move about the room once critical mass is reached.

–Make sure you get to meet everyone/say hi to everyone/exchange information with everyone so that you do not leave the event looking at someone leaving too and wishing you would have met that person.  “I’m so sorry I didn’t get a chance to speak with you, Edward.  I was so consumed in my own little world.”  That’s the worst thing to say.  You can always circle back to your new acquaintances, but do grease those palms and shake hands.

10.  The follow-up:  Do it right.  And, prepare to be “wowed.”

–That night I met two cool people who shared our mutual likes for travel and gave them joke cards with the phrase “STOP TALKING” on the front.  I sadly have not settled on a great business card so I was in the position of giving people my Twitter handle, because I argued, “Everything you want to learn about me or to connect with me you can do it through Twitter.”  While it alienates people, I challenge them to interface with me this way.  There’s always LinkedIn as well.  Who phones or e-mails these days, huh?  I have over 1,200 emails I got to get through.  Twitter is faster.

Much to my thinking that I horribly failed networking I got two LinkedIn requests from people I connected with and accepted the requests.  I am wowed from what I see from my new friend’s LinkedIn pages and, I immediately endorsed a friend because on a few of her skills because she really talked the talk about them.

Conclusion

It’s so nice to get closure and re-connect even though it’s online.  When I read those profiles (in a stalker-like fashion) I was happy that I got to know a little more about them.  I learned so much that night like: controlled vocabularies in Canada or “visible minorities, explained” or cave paintings done several feet down below in cramped quarters.

Now, even though I have the facial recognition of a crow, I won’t make the mistake that they have that superpower too.  I’ll remember those details about what they shared and strike up conversation again.

 

##########

Think you could talk about your networking disasters better?  Drop me a line and let’s get you to write a rebuttal to this post!  DM me @Archbrarian.

Leave a Reply

The act of commenting on this site is an opt-in action and San Jose State University may not be held liable for the information provided by participating in the activity.

Your email address will not be published.