Monday, May 14, 2012

Networking a Different Way

Networking stinks. We are taught from early in our youth not to talk to strangers and we spend a lot of time in our adulthood walking past strangers on the street. But, if you're in a room with booze and business suits, you're supposed to be excited about everyone there and find exciting ways to hand the other person a small rectangular piece of cardboard. As you may be able to tell, I avoid networking events whenever possible.

But Forbes has some new ways to network that may make it a bit more enjoyable. I like #5 on their top-5 list: reconnect with your past. I think that everyone should make sure to tap into their alumni networks as great networking opportunities that are a bit less awkward. At the very least, you have one great topic of conversation: the school you shared together.

The other way I've found networking tolerable is to make sure to do it in groups. It's easier to network when you have someone else to pick up the conversation when there is that awkward lull. Find a friend or colleague in your field who you have a good banter with and get working with the room. At the very least, you'll have one person to talk to so you're not that awkward person in the corner of the room trying to look important on their smartphone (and, yes, I've been that person). Make networking work for you.

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