When I opened Maxie’s draft of this, I knew I was going to love it. I am so anti-business cards. I always used to have them on hand when I was in college and would hand them out when I thought it was appropriate. It wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of business cards (i.e. people giving them to me) that I realized how out of date they are. I would end up emptying out my handbag and pockets with stacks of business cards, not even sure when or how I got them. There are MUCH BETTER ways to network and Maxie is actually a pro:
What to Do If You Hate Networking
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
Not too long ago I found myself in a room where I didn’t know a soul. It was one of those super sassy networking events where everyone came armed with business cards and plastic smiles with the backdrop of a setting sun along NYC’s fierce skyline. And I was miserable. Not because the event sucked but because I realized how much I hated this version of meeting people.
This particular situation was pretty ironic for me (to hate a networking event) because I love people and could talk to a brick wall. But I think it really hits home that if someone like me dislikes a situation like that, then manyyyyy people are likely feeling the same way.
It only took me a few minutes of wanting to hide in the bathroom before I shook myself out of the misery and remembered that I know how to do this – to make the most of my time and work the room without having to spend my whole night there. And and and, make meaningful connects while enjoying myself.
The discomfort of meeting people we don’t know is worth it. SO much of our success in life comes from our network. Introductions, new opportunities, sage advice… it’s all about who we know and how far they’ll go to support us. So if you’re not a fan of networking but know you need to be in the business of expanding your network, remember these tips:
Find the super connector
This is a tip I learned from mentor ages ago, and it’s always stuck with me. If you want to be a super efficient networker, all you have to do is meet the person that knows everyone! Look for someone at any event who is fluttering around, seems to know everyone, and is creating countless connection handoffs. This is the person that once you know them, you become tapped into 10x more people than you would if you met anyone else in the room.
Don’t go wide, go deep
I don’t bring business cards to any networking events because I think the practice of handing out biz cards like candy to anyone you so much as make eye contact with is so 2006 and honestly a little skeezy. I focus on having one or two SUPER valuable conversations and really get to know what someone is about. This is the type of person that you’re jazzed to trade all kinds of contact info via the phones that are already in both of your hands. Make that one really good connection and then feel free to bounce!
Ask lots of questions
If you want to get around having to talk about yourself or answer all kinds of surface questions, then get into the practice of listening… A LOT. If you ask a ton of questions, not only will you ingratiate yourself with the person you’re talking with, you’ll create a deeper connection, and not have to do too much of the explaining yourself. Plus, listening is an amazing skill that we should all jump at the chance to practice.
Focus on doing things you already loveeee
I find that it’s easiest to make really genuine and valuable connections when we’re in situations that bring out the best in us. I don’t particularly care for networking happy hours, so I don’t go. But get me on a volleyball court or a painting studio and I’m bound to be having a ball, which makes it even easier to meet people naturally. We can meet people ANYWHERE. Why not do it while doing things you already love?
It doesn’t matter what you’re working on – summer internships, your first job, your next step – the chances of being successful will increase as the quality of your network does. Hopefully, these tips will help you establish that network whether you dig networking or kinda hate it.