Networking SUCKS but the sandwiches are okay

Posted on December 22, 2015

Listening to: Bastille – Pompeii (Monsieur Adi Remix)

Written at: Oxford Second Cup, Decaf was a bad decision, and the wifi is not awesome. Continued at Charlies Bar.

The term networking sucks, I’m not sure when I started to understand “networking”, but I can tell you what I used to think about it. The term networking always carried such pomp. It conjured a mental image of some large, uncomfortable place setting where I wouldn’t be comfortable  or fit in, and where we all ate tiny and bad tasting sandwiches.

You will all be pleased to know that its not like that at all. Sometimes the sandwiches are actually pretty good!

The events are also usually pretty good. I”ve been to networking events that run the gambit from suit and tie formal dinners, all the way to beer events in t-shirt and jeans. I can tell you that they are all pretty comfortable, you just need to get used to them. You may have to adjust which frame of mind you are in and calibrate your personality to the event. By that I mean that you will be yourself and you will be genuine, but the topics, tone, and humor that you use will be different depending on the type of event. I’m not saying that you will always be doing this, but until you develop some sense of the people you are talking to, you will not be saying and doing things you may normally think are okay.

You will find your preference in event by going to different ones and seeing which fit you. Often times your preference in event will actually be pretty indicative of the kind of person you are and the companies you should work at.  I’m a fan of most events, as I am fairly social, but I can tell you right now that I do prefer the t-shirt events as they better represent who I am and the industry I have chosen for myself.  That is not to say I”ve stopped going to the formal events. Those are still important too.

I don”t have a tried and true method here. All I can tell you is get off your ass and network! Go! Find an event you think is worth going to and go to it. I can”t tell you to build confidence or give you 5 easy tips here. The more you go, the easier it gets, and the first event is always the hardest. You will be nervous, you will be either under or overdressed and you may stand out like a sore thumb. That doesn”t matter because you have gone to an event! You have tried to interact with people, you and have seen real examples of what people wear, how they act and you couldn’t have learned that any other way.

It doesn’t end once you’ve been hired either. I have a job and yet I still network. That is because it is always good to network. Once you have found your job, going to networking changes a bit but you always want to keep an ear open. These are still events to learn from. There are still people to meet and opportunities for yourself, friends or for your company to be found. You never want to stop shaking hands. You never want to stop going.

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