Network. No matter how you tweet, tweet, refer, wring your face or space, you should do so these days if you want to avoid professional suicide. With all this online communication, your ability to meet strangers one-on-one (probably the best networking tool of all) becomes rusty and overshadows your skills. There is no such thing as unintentional networking. Networking is a mission. When you are going to meet and greet people who can advance your career, you have a strong sense of purpose. Even a chance meeting can provide an opportunity to establish contacts.
As soon as you find that new acquaintances have professional strength, you immediately decide to make the meeting interesting. There’s no real secret. Most people, myself included, don’t want to admit that we’re doing networking, because then we find that we’re actually using the world’s biggest career trick. Maybe we think it smells like deception. You know what you’re doing; I know what you’re doing; Others know what you’re doing. and you read that you should do it, but for some reason deny that you are doing it. I mean, only a contested label came up and said, “Hi, I’m Jane. I’m here to communicate.” Oh.
Now I’m very shy. Oh, I know I do a lot of seminars and talk to hundreds of people, but this one-on-one conversation is a killer. Chattering with strangers makes me nervous. I never know what to say. I solve the problem by avoiding it as much as possible. But following this recipe can lead to a very lonely life, not to mention a lack of contact. So when I was invited to a contract signing session at a very exclusive private old foundation club (which you enter, worth your entire savings account, you need a vote in a secret selection committee and from the history of the Daughters of the American Revolution), I didn’t know whether to go. I tried to rationalize. I am the CEO of a continuing education company and editor of three magazines. Members of this electoral club can become important customers.
Then there was another possible problem. For 50 years there have been rumours that the club was anti-Semitic (not to mention their attitude towards other guys, which is not in the majority). My grandmother would have turned in the grave if she even thought I was thinking of putting some carnations in this place. Now I wanted to leave hoping to pursue a career? Was I crazy? When I was running these old colleagues, she laughed at me. “This “problem” no longer exists. We live in the 21st century,” they said.
Yes, but in my opinion, how long? And did any of the people who had long faced this “problem” belong to the club today? But the urgent need for networking and the idea of spending another night alone watching reruns of “Law and Order” surpassed my sensibility. I made up my mind, stuck to my speech and went to the chi-chi club with the iron gates.
I fully dress in my everyday but stylish suit, trying to make it black so that people don’t notice the problems with ease. (Okay, well, a little more than a little.) I work on the road, practicing my speech in the elevator: “I give timely education and communicate in the legal field.” “Oh, I understand, lawyer. How interesting!
And then there’s one of those uncontrollable things that happens at just the wrong time. I’m starting to sweat. I can’t stop. Either I’m very nervous or it’s the longest hot flash in history. Maybe Grandma heard about what I do. “Oh my God,” I beg you. Not now.” I hold one hand on the steering wheel and blow my face with cold air, from which cosmetics are now draining, forming tiny brown dots on my clean white collar. I’m in a panic, but I’m determined to try it out. I come to the club, sigh deeply, smile, nod to the doorman and walk through the double mahogany doors, up the marble-lined floors and past the authentic biedermeier furniture. I have a mission.
Despite the confidence, the first few minutes after entering can be overwhelming. Am I going to the bar? Am I going to find the biggest hostess I’ve ever met? Am I going to a group that is clearly involved in relevant gossip and gossip?
When I see a gentleman sitting at a table, I assume it’s an author looking forward to signing purchases. I’m deciding to help him. “So, Michael,” I said confidently, “who was your favorite character?” the woman next to me snorts and sighs. “This is Andre, darling, cashier. The author is there with the mistress. (That’s what she was talking about. Well, one mistake won’t kill me. I go up to the hostess and introduce myself. “Oh yes,” she said gracefully, turning to the group. “As for the NBA playoffs tonight, I really had to scratch the bottom of the barrel to attract people.” The group laughs. I’m standing with a glass of frozen Merlot in my hand. I decided that the comment was not directed at me and that she was probably as nervous as I was.
The conversation revolved around Mr. Harriweather’s trip to Tuscany. Now I feel comfortable. I went to Europe. The conversation is about Paris. We’re home now, darling! I know that. I decide to call Paris, sigh and slowly slurp wine. (I learned three things in the 5 minutes I was there: sniffing, sighing and slowly sipping seemed to be important.) “When I was on tour on American Express a few years ago … What was that? The blonde, who was stained with recent Botox injections and fake pearl earrings, rolls her newly reconstructed eyes and shakes her head. Obviously, no American Express is going to leave here.
I’m changing direction quickly. “Oh, I agree,” I said. “The best part of this whole disaster is that you drove into Paris at dusk and saw the beautiful lights on the Eiffel Tower.” Uv. This should earn a few points. But the band looks at me strangely. I realize that I started sweating again, and now the mascara has slipped off my eyelashes and formed circles under my eyes. Some even take a step back. I really want to go. But my thinner ten-pound belt was slowly rolling down my belly. It was clear that there would be no quick escape.
Enters the mistress-less-than-most. “You know, a nice Jewish girl like me has to be very careful when I travel to Europe,” she said afterwards. I wonder what it is.