Wednesday, 23 March 2011

How not to network

With unemployment looming, this month's buzz word at work seems to be "networking".

Unfortunately, I'm a bit rubbish at it. As someone who a) spends most of their day online and b) forgets names seconds after being introduced...let's just say face-to-face isn't really my bag.

Despite this, it was a "networking event" that I found myself attending last night. After listening to some guest speakers, we were encouraged to pin them down, surround them in droves and dig deep into their souls for the answers to impossible questions. And, well, get jobs out of it. Or something.

Having grabbed a glass of Pinot, I surveyed the room. All the guests were under mass ambush by at least six eager, fawning faces. Not wanting to become one of the gaggle, I began chatting to a girl I'd been on a course with a few months earlier.

Back then, she'd struck me as nice, but a bit odd. This view was confounded when the girl - a secretary for a high level Director - decided to ask another Director from her office in absolute seriousness whether he "liked her or not". I managed about 30 seconds sandwiched in a Cavern of Awkwardness, before turning round and mouthing "eek, this is embarrassing" to the person behind me, and shuffling my way into their group.

Lesson one: one person's career suicide is another person's conversation starter.

It was about 20 minutes later when Dippy Secretary returned to my side and picked up the conversation we'd been having before, which had centred entirely around what we did now, and what we wanted to do in the future.

"So how did you get from FindusScrubs* to Production?" she began, which threw me slightly given that I didn't have a monkeys what she was on about.

At this point, I could only do one of three things: smile and nod, make up an answer or go "WTF?". I chose a variation of the latter.

"How did you get from FindusScrubs to production?" she repeated.
"Wha-...Fundi-? Who?" I looked at her a bit squinty, like.
"FindusScrubs? The theatrical agency you worked at?"

There followed a few seconds of silence. I got her to repeat the name a couple more times just to be sure, before carefully picking my response.

"Ummm...that wasn't me"
"Oh. Wasn't it?"
"No. That was...someone else."
"Did you not work at FindusScrubs?"
"Never heard of it."
"Ah." a look of realisation crosses her face "It was someone else wasn't it."
"Ah. Yes. It was that girl over there. "

And with that, I learnt lesson two of networking: If you think you're shit at something, there is always guaranteed to be someone else in the room who's worse.


*Still have no clue what she said, so made it up.


The Unbearable Banishment said...

I don't know how useful it is in the UK, but LinkedIn is a pretty valuable tool here in the U.S. Most of the work I've done over the past two years was either directly or indirectly the result of a LinkedIn connection.

jman said...

I can't believe you left us hanging about you actually did get from Findusscrubs to where you are now (and where exactly is that again?)

jman said...

That should have been "how" you actually

modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...

I remain forever grateful I'm not a civilian...

nuttycow said...

Ha! I'm useless at networking. Although it seems that everyone knows my name, I'm useless at remembering other people's. I rely on smiling a lot, nodding and one sided introductions (to people whose names I can remember) a la "Oh, and this is James........"

Works a treat :)

Anonymous said...

Network is a fine art indeed, hence why I tend to avoid it as much as possible.

looby said...

I tend to feel nervous, then deal with this by hitting the free wine, which makes me gabble. I also can't help feeling "What's the point? What am I doing here?"

Ellie said...

I like those lessons. I'm going to remember them myself!


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