So last week I decided to go to this networking event at my school. Networking events vary from industry to industry, but basically, they are these places for people from the same industry or with similar career interests to meet, exchange information and gain some valuable contacts that can be used at work, in a job search, or to find an employee.
The dynamic goes as follows: you arrive with a goal in mind, like finding an internship, for example. Then, you approach people and introduce yourself. Here, it’s important to prepare your elevator pitch. Then you listen, and see if you have anything in common with the other person; you then proceed to exchange business cards or contact information, and you follow up to foster the relationship.
Wow, that looks a lot like dating.
Ok, back to the story. Even though I'm not small talk's biggest fan, I decided that I would stick to my 2017 resolution of stepping out of my comfort zone, so I registered to see what this thing was about.
I'd always thought that if I was cast in The Bachelor I'd win for sure. I mean, I went to an all-girls Catholic school, so I know a thing or two about girls getting competitive for attention. But oh boy, after this networking event I'm not so sure anymore.It's definitely harder in real life.
I arrived with business cards in hand, outfit on point and a great attitude. Then I got there and realized that you literally have to grab people's attention the minute you get the chance. Everyone has their eagle eyes on, trying to spot the best prey and go STRAIGHT to them (ok it’s not that dramatic, but you get the drill).
With this going on, I didn't know if I should pull a Corinne or what, but it felt awkward approaching strangers with "Hi! How are you? ... So.... I want a job".
Also popping into other people's conversations wasn’t coming naturally to me. It’s like when you go to Macy’s and everyone at the Fragrance Floor tries to win you over with the latest Dior scent or something like that.
Let's say that I'm crossing The Bachelor off my potential reality television paths. (I'm running out of ideas because if I continue like this, I don't think I won’t either be able to be on The Real Housewives of anywhere).
Not that there's NOTHING wrong with networking events. Actually, I think that they can do wonders for your career (apparently 80% of hires are based on relationships, not regular job postings), but small talk and quick interactions are not my thing.
Hey, it wasn't like I sat in a corner and cried. Actually, I ended up meeting some really interesting people. I don’t know if necessarily I will end up working for any of them, but I loved the fact that everyone representing a company there seemed to LOVE their job. I really like a hustler.
Maybe there’s one part of the equation I missed? IDK, let me know what you think and if you have any tips that I can apply to improving my socialization skills.