E-Z Networking in 3 Steps!
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tortured coached a client last night, making her present to me her networking pitch over and over and over again till I’m sure now she’s re-thinking her plan to transition her career…or at least to attempt to do so with me. But honestly, she was a trooper, with a great attitude…despite making me feel extremely f**king old when, in regards to a great anecdote she told about a Wellesley College internship leading to her present job, she said, “Oh…but I graduated in ’08. God that’s years and years ago.” Eons ago. Now I haz an old.
But she, as I said, had a great attitude and really worked on getting her networking pitch down. It is kind of funny, when you think about it, how much time and energy we spend on perfecting our networking pitches, and trying to appear calm, relaxed and human at these networking events…because really: aren’t we always networking? When we meet friends of friends at a dinner party…or our favorite barista introduces us to another coffee-shop patron and we make smiling small talk about how good her caffeine-concoctions are…or when I see which comedians my friends on Facebook are following, and I start following them myself… or when I ask a stranger in the pharmacy where she got those fantastic bright mauve 4” heel booties, and she gives me detailed instructions on how to find them? All of those incidents are a form of networking, and, more importantly, they’re also forms of human interactions. It’s simply that in some circumstances we allow ourselves to relax, and in others we feel that we must go in and work the room like a mother**ker, thus immediately getting the best job ever… and suddenly, it’s 1am and we’re drunk, realizing that the only stranger we spoke to all night was the bartender. But bartenders need love also, so no worries.
I’m going to a Seven Sisters networking event tonight—primarily to make sure certain clients show up, but also to drink, for once, among people who don’t happen to be 1) orange, 2) or have a tail, 3) or be feline—so here’s my 3 E-Z Hints for Capable Networking:
1. Let your goals dictate your means. Therefore, if you’re attempting to get a better job within, say, the tech industry, you probably wouldn’t go to a networking event aimed at lawyers. (Not, of course, because lawyers don’t have tremendous social skills and aren’t fun, easy-going welcoming people…snort. No. Not at all.) So in your mind, make a list of what you’re trying to accomplish by said networking, so you plot out strategy aimed at making you, eventually, successful instead of making it up as you go and ending up grumpy. And drunk. #nothating
2. Be able to introduce yourself and explain what you to do to anyone, even my (cranky) Abuelita Pastora, if she were 1) still alive and 2) cared. Don’t give me that, “Well I work in a very rarefied field” horseshit. #STFU If you can’t make eye contact, and, with a smile on your face, explain what exactly it is you do…how can you expect anyone else to listen…or care…or consider hiring you? When did we stop teaching social skills and why do I now, again, sound like your grandpa? If you cannot communicate your skills, I’m going to assume you don’t have any. (Or, as my fave theater teacher said, “Perhaps you’ve heard that life isn’t fair.” #whompwhomp) Also, Pumpkin: the people at the top, the people who frequently hire, they usually have no idea what today’s more technical positions entail. (True story: When he was president, Bill Clinton didn’t know how to send emails. Fmr. President George W. Bush couldn’t load music onto his own iPod. His valet had to do it! Why do I still have brain cells devoted to his crap, when I can barely remember the name of the boy I hung out with two weekends ago! …Vincent? Maybe Jake? It’s gone.)
3. Communicate, don’t lecture! Read people’s body language. Don’t interrupt conversations already on-going, because, last time I checked, that’s probably not going to win you friends in high places. Use a little common-sense and understand that everyone there is pretty much in the same boat as you are: they don’t wish to be there; they’d rather be home, on the sofa, partially-nude, watching “Portlandia,” but, at the same time, they’d like to improve their professional career. So do unto others as you’d have them do unto you: smile. Ask people questions about themselves. If you can help someone, do so…that’ll win you brownie points till the cows come on. And, for the love of Jebus, have some kind of business card to give to people, since writing your info on pieces of paper torn from your wallet does not look as super professional as your might think. Even my Abuelita Pastora would say, “That sh*t no es bueno.” If she was alive today. And if she cared. #Noandmoreno
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