I spent this past weekend networking with old friends. Translation: I spent the weekend eating and drinking margaritas with friends, and in the midst of that I “casually” mentioned my business and how the services I offer might be useful to my friends, or their friends or their…etc. Of course, if the IRS asks, I was working. But honestly, I was working: I was talking with friends, and alerting them to the things I do in my professional life and reminding them how those services might apply to them. I was also gossiping. But that was a freebie.
So, I had a lot of fun. But I’m writing about this because so many people seem to think networking is tedious. That it’s an onerous experience. Really? Add some margaritas to it and networking’s pretty awesome. And by “so many people,” I mean men. This is a huge generalization, but so many men seem to see networking as begging people for favors, and therefore demeaning. Really?
For example: I dated a boy a few years ago, very all-American, broke (Oh, of course. Come on…what would I be doing with a boy with a job…?), who could talk to anyone. At one point, he convinced the Time-Warner cable rep to give him a free month, and some free HD sports channels…despite the minor detail of him not having paid his bill for the past 5 months. They had discussed football, and the rep felt bad that my boy was possibly going to miss the season due to a little thing like not having paid his bill. Yes, you’re right: it was unbelievable. Meanwhile, this is the same guy, who, when taken to a party to meet an individual who could have put him on the path towards a great career…showed up wasted, unshaven, filthy. Several days later, finally sober, he shrugged and said, “Baby, I just hate to network; it’s stupid.” Oh.
He absolutely refused to accept that his conversation with the cable representative was a form of networking. In his opinion, networking only happened with people engaged in the same type of business. In office cubicles. In midtown, somewhere. (Yes, in case you’re wondering: this boy was indeed fine as hell. Why else would I be dealing with that level of insanity? He made my vagina very happy. She was a big fan.)
Now, obviously, this boy was an extreme example…and there are many, many men who are amazing at networking. But there are many men, and women, who still believe networking can only take one form, or that there are only certain people with whom it’s useful to network. There’s people out there, wasting their own time when they could be meeting other people. Alas.
Want more advice about networking? Email me @firstname.lastname@example.org!