Ten things I’ve learned from networking events

  1. Over 90% of strangers you meet at any given event will be boring people you have very little in common with. At first glance, most people will probably feel the same way about you.
  2. Schmoozing and socializing well is a learned skill. It takes a lot of training to do well, and even then, you still often have to overcome a certain level of anxiety.
  3. A good generic opening line might be “so, what do you do?” It’s open to interpretation. Another possible opener: “who are all these people?
  4. Many networking events are more about getting drunk than making real business connections. Better to plan to meet business associates at the event than hope that you’ll come out of the event with any great new contacts.
  5. If you are nobody, nobody wants to talk to you. If you’re somebody, those same people who ignored you weeks ago suddenly find you fascinating.
  6. Enter, coat check, bathroom, check hair, survey room, find out drink situation, get drink, chat up somebody at the bar, wander to food table, look for somebody you know, chat up somebody you know or somebody at food table, read nearby pamphlet, check phone, find somebody else you know, chat, bathroom, back to bar, scan room…
  7. Even if you are with a group of people you know, you still have the obligation to branch out solo and chat with strangers or important business associates. To summarize: even in a group of friends, you are still alone.
  8. Try to be honest. It’s tough, but it makes a better impression in the end. Because ultimately, nobody worth talking to really loves small talk and bullshit.
  9. Sometimes it’s nice to socialize for work. Sometimes, it’s really draining.
  10. Breath mints. Just in case.

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