Thursday, September 24, 2009

Post 21: Networking

YG and I went to a networking event downtown last night. Our dinner plans were cancelled and we already had a babysitter lined up, so we figured what the hell. Networking is one of those words that makes me cringe. I know you need to do it to find jobs. I know that you're more likely to get a job from someone you know. And I know that you need to meet people in order to get to "know" them. I know all this stuff, and I still hate it.

Networking brings out the worst of my social awkwardness and brings me back to my middle school days when you wonder who you're going to sit with at lunch. At these events, I always assume that everyone knows each other, is easily carrying on tons of scintillating conversation, and does not want an interruption from a dorky outsider. It's worse going with YG because he's Mr. Big Man on Campus and a relentless networker -- he has a natural kind of social ease and can get even the most boring and awkward people to talk. I usually stall out after "what do you do" and "what do you want to do." I then mumble my way into the "where are you from" and eventually land on the weather, where most conversations go to die.

It actually wasn't that bad. We set a goal of collecting five business cards before we walked in, and I work well with goals. I had a glass of wine so that I'd have something to carry and lubricate myself to be a little less lame, and I set off. I had lots of conversations with laid off investment bankers and people in the financial services industry, one fun conversation with a woman who had started her own event planning business, and only one painfully awkward one with a person in "educational leadership." A lot of the women talked about needing to find something more flexible because they have kids which was expected, but still depressing. YG rescued from a conversation with some douchebag financial analyst obviously looking to pick up women, and then we left and had dinner "al fresco" at Upstairs on the Square.

Overall, it wasn't that bad. Knowing that YG was there and watching me forced me into conversations, as opposed to hiding out in the bathroom. I had a lot of trouble answering the question, "so, what do you want to do?" I really have no idea. I still like PR, but I know it's time for me to get out of high tech. Suggestions welcome.

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