Networking 101

“No shirt, one tampon, no problems.” – Ancient Proverb

I recently attended a networking event in Reno, NV, and, from a “trying to adult” perspective, I’d like to give you a few tips to make your next professional networking event a mild success. (More successful than mine).

  1. Don’t wear white they day of, unless you have your s*** together.

After changing an upwards of ten the morning of, because, duh, I settled on a nice/classy/Vogue-esque white tank with a new brown jacket on top (see below). Upon choosing this outfit, I also decided that Victoria Beckham was my new spirit animal, but that’s a whole other story.

I always eat a good breakfast, in hopes of actually being fit and healthy (lol). It wasn’t until I got into the office and looked down that I saw 3. fat. cholula. stains. on the front of my shirt.

I knew I had to make a choice. And fast. Was I going to try to tuck in the stains? (They were on the lower part of my shirt afterall). Was I going to go home and change? (Nope, meetings all day). My only option, it seemed, was to take off the shirt and wear only my jacket, zipped up (the shirt was long, wouldn’t work under).

This meant going to said networking event with a jacket and no shirt. Awkwardly hugging my friends I saw in fear of lifting my arms too high and exposing my lack of abs, and generally being uncomfortable.

So, like I said, do not wear white the day of an event unless you truly feel you have your s*** together. (And if you feel that way, hit me up for a guest blog, plz).

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2. Secure your personal belongings.

I showed up, alone, (no shirt), and made my way to the check-in table. Luckily (or maybe not), I saw someone I knew working it. After exchanging hellos, giving my name to check-in, etc., I was asked to put my business card in the box for a raffle.

“Sure thing!” (Of course I had my business card, I’m a professional).

I reached into my bag to grab my fancy leather portfolio that I had bought in an attempt to appear over 25 for a conference I went to in Austin, and noticed something fly out of my purse with it.

But, as to not convenience the line, I quickly grabbed a biz card out of my portfolio, placed in the box, and got situated before looking to the ground to see what had dropped.

And there it was, a brand new (duh), bright pink and white packaged tampon. On the ground in front of me, having just flown out of my purse, in front of everyone in the line.

I quickly grabbed it, and found a table.

3. Just say no.

I then reached my table, no shirt, but with tampon. This is my sentiment to tell you that if you would like, you can say no to the food at networking events. Often, I hear people say they can’t reach their goals because they have too many events going on. Newsflash: you can always refrain from eating that cake. If you want to be super productive that afternoon and avoid the “afternoon chair slump” I highly recommend skipping out on what you don’t want and getting something a tad more fresh.

You can also use your not eating as an ice breaker. “Oh, I had a great brunch today, let me tell you about it.” And P.S. people are thinking about the fact that you only ate half your cake slice WAY LESS than you think they are.

4. Don’t feel weird.

It kind of sucks going up to strangers and inserting yourself in their conversation, CLEARLY with the motive of talking up your business. Don’t feel weird about it, though. That’s LITERALLY what these networking events are for…people expect it.

5. Make friends.

On that note, don’t BS. I firmly believe in relationships and truly networking with the person and not the business. Enjoy it! There are actually some awesome people out there that are like-minded. You’d be surprised.

6. Sit back and enjoy.

Sit back and enjoy. I know I do. (Oh, and listen to the speakers, dammit, they’re generally sharing their knowledge for a reason…you know, put your PHONE AWAY).

I guess the last thing would be to enjoy every event, meeting, or otherwise. Even if you aren’t wearing a shirt. Even if you drop a tampon on the ground in front of everyone. It can still be a success… “There will be miracles, when you believe.”

**OOOO. Blog post to come on types of networkers. Stay tuned.