How to work a room - tips for networking.
May 16, 2002 8:24 AM   Subscribe

How to work a room - tips for networking. Also useful for parties! The graphics aren't beautiful, but they make effective use of the web to communicate something which is easily forgotten after a live presentation.
posted by sheauga (27 comments total)

Where does she put her nice business card wallet while she is holding her juice in her left hand so she can shake with her right?
posted by Irontom at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2002

What torture! Either you can do this networking stuff, or you can't. I've worked rooms at conferences and seminars the same way this Darling beazle does. When it's over, I'm filled with self-loathing, my armpits stink with flop sweat, and unable to look at my own smiling asshole face in the mirror. I guess everybody's different.
posted by Faze at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2002

Aaargh! Darling is a pain. We all know her, over and over again. The smiles and yesses she gets are just our way of getting the damn, brazen woman away from us. Those cards go straight from the printers to her wallet to our wastepaper basket.

Thanks for bringing me out in a cold, cold sweat, sheauga. I won't throw you a couple of networking links from the lower rungs of management schools if you promise you'll never do this again. Only a machine gun game featuring Darling - that lonely black guy had a good shot and the idiot missed his chance - will redeem you entirely. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2002

Jokes aside, I fail to see how the graphics "aren't beautiful." I thought exactly the opposite.
posted by banished at 9:20 AM on May 16, 2002

gee, i didn't know there was an "executive lego people" set available. where can i buy some?
posted by pxe2000 at 9:36 AM on May 16, 2002

Th intended audience is the MBA/business school community, as this was originally done for MBA Jungle magazine.
posted by bkeaggy at 9:47 AM on May 16, 2002

"How to be annoying, shallow, and fake in 16 steps"
posted by bondcliff at 9:56 AM on May 16, 2002

Yo, Miguel, here's some phenelzine till your elephant tranks kick back in. :; Perhaps it is considered so impolite to approach a member of the opposite sex in Portugal without flirting a bit, that you're within your rights to shoot them in defense of your honor?

I get frustrated with people who clearly never got any helpful social skills coaching in high school, and are unable to loosen up without a few drinks in them.

What's so horrifying about asking a few questions to find out what someone else is about, and exchanging contact information? Evidently some of you guys must be forced to attend events full of people who are neither entertaining nor potentially useful contacts.
posted by sheauga at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2002

sheauga: For some people, it is hard to understand others' true intentions in social situations. If someone says, "Nice to meet you," shakes your hand, you think they want to be your friend, not sell you something.

After lots and lots of people treating you nice to get something from you, one tends to mistrust social mor(e|ay)s, and perceive those who use social rituals like this as disingenous.

These kind of "layers" in conversation are very difficult for some folks to understand. Maybe that's why some posters in this thread recoil from the advice in the link, (as I did, although the graphics are nice.) not just for lack of social interaction. Diff'rent brain-wirings for diff'rent contacts.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:30 AM on May 16, 2002

Banished: I agree. Xplane's graphics always tend to be really simple like that. I think it goes along perfectly with what they're trying to do: present subjects as simply as possible without actually watering down the information.

Sonofsamiam: "social mor(e|ay)s"
You're my new favorite person.
posted by Su at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2002

As bkeaggy is too nice to say so, this link is from (apparently) his company, xplane, and his own website features a collection of found grocery lists and also one of rocks that look like shoes, just wanted to mention all that.
posted by luser at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2002

bkeaggy, with all due respect, I think these two rocks shaped like shoes look more like snicker pie.
posted by Hankins at 10:51 AM on May 16, 2002

"don't make small talk
cut to the chase
don't you dare say "so...?"
no dance routines
no pop giddiness
no singing along
unless the tune is really good
no i don't want your number
but you can have mine
i can't be bothered

and please be interesting."
posted by sheauga at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2002

Sheauga, What happens is you approach these name-tagged strangers to find out what they're all about, and within two seconds, you find yourself so spectacularly bored that death by exploding head seems preferable. And the older you get and the more grown up you become, the more important these kinds of encounters get in your life. It's hideous, it really is.
posted by Faze at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2002

I get frustrated with people who clearly never got any helpful social skills coaching in high school, and are unable to loosen up without a few drinks in them.

i get frustrated too.
posted by moz at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2002

You'll all be working for Darling someday, if you don't already.
posted by vacapinta at 11:06 AM on May 16, 2002

hankins, i see your point. but i have a strange little book about the history of shoes that will validate all selections! i just need to incorporate the reference photos. of course, if i had some way of learning some basic schmoozing skills maybe i could improve my posture, smile confidently and then you would trust me that, indeed, those rocks are shaped like shoes.
posted by bkeaggy at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2002

Wow - Metafilter the anti-network web site. Who'd have thought?

Faze - as a true operator you should be glancing over the person's shoulder to find the next person you're going to talk to. As you become bored with the person you are talking to, you invite the third person into the the conversation and function to make the introductions. Then you move on to find a new person to talk to.

I wish I was better at this stuff, but being an anti-social freak, I suck at it in a way that is painful to experience.
posted by willnot at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2002

Yeah, but can she do a keg stand?
posted by dopamine at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2002

And the older you get and the more grown up you become, the more important these kinds of encounters get in your life. It's hideous, it really is.

Yup. That's what makes all those teenage bloggers at Pitas so refreshing. Total socialization orientation! Only problem is, adults need to wait till these folks turn 18 to start hanging out with them in real life, otherwise parents get nervous.

1. Why, you can't just strike up an acquaintance drinking coffee in public with a married woman, someone will see you. 2. You mean that kid half your age is giving you all the good tech and professional advice, I don't believe it. 3.
Stray too far from household pets, the weather, or geek-speak, and it's unknown territory. Better play it safe if you don't know them, etc. ...
(No wonder so many feel bored around people they don't know.)
posted by sheauga at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2002

Truthfully these were exactly the skills I had to learn -- painfully -- as a businessman. (Although I believe in proferring my business card first as a sign of interest). Yes I bring my own spice to it, as I'm not made of lego, and yes sometimes I come home feeling like a filthy whore. But most business associations are based on judgement of character and if you can perform these actions naturally and earnestly while expressing your inviduality, you'll benefit. (Yes I used to have a mohawk and now I'm speaking in favor of networking.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2002

What, punks can't network?
posted by luser at 12:21 PM on May 16, 2002

"I'd like to get to know you, in case you can help me. I might be able to help you, but mainly I'm interested in how you can help me."

"Piss off, leech."

"Psst, that gray-haired man in the Bass Ale rugby shirt is lacking in social skills!"

It certainly does seem like a lot of work to climb the ladder. Unfortunately, it seems that none of that work actually has anything with doing work. But, they are the new ruling class, although it does seem that the last time the Ivy League MBA's were given the ball to run with during the last bubble they did seem to screw the pooch pretty bad. But no matter, they'll just keep networking away, developing future contacts that will allow them to continue to fail up.

Pardon me if I continue in self-employment for my own personal sanity.
posted by dglynn at 12:46 PM on May 16, 2002

Best networking advice I ever had:

1. Wear a bowtie or ride a Harley or both so they remember you as "the guy/woman with the bowtie and/or the FXDX"

2. Wear a name badge big enough and high enough to be read at a glance - without people having to bend down and get close to your breasts to read it. Or you'll get remembered as "that guy/woman with the bowtie and the FXDX and a left breast named Terry"

3. Wear the badge on the right lapel (not the left). As you thrust out your right hand to shake you are thrusting your badge forward too.
posted by terrymiles at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2002

Do what you do competently, thoroughly and with some flair and initiative (read: be 1% less lazy than the guy in the next cube), and the networkers (as well as employers, superiors, etc.) will be seeking you out, not the other way around.

I see this not so much as a step by step process (although that's surely how it was meant) as (a) an reverse-indictment of process over substance, and (b) and indication on how low the average moke's commo/people skills are. It's nice to get a firm handshake, have someone look you in the eye, hear what you like to hear, but by and large all that is icing on the cake of boring old competence. I have bosses who are total social bulldozers - but they get the job done properly and well, and that's what it's all about.
posted by UncleFes at 1:40 PM on May 16, 2002

"gee, i didn't know there was an "executive lego people" set available. where can i buy some?"

They're found at most MBA programs on recruitment day.

Phil Agre has a really good piece on academic networking here. Much better read.
The truth is that the world is made of people. People out of communities are like fish out of water or plants out of soil. Research of all kinds depends critically on intensive and continually evolving communication among people engaged in related projects. Networking cannot substitute for good research, but good research cannot substitute for networking either. You can't get a job or a grant or any recognition for your accomplishments unless you keep up to date with the people in your community. Establishing professional relationships with particular people and involving yourself in particular professional communities will change you: not only will you internalize a variety of interesting points of view, but you will become more comfortable in your writing and speaking because you will be engaged in an ongoing conversation with people you know. And if no community is waiting for you, you will have to go out and build one -- one person at a time. This "overhead" can be a nuisance at first, but none of it is terribly difficult once you get some practice and really convince yourself that you cannot sustain your professional life without devoting about a day per week to it.

posted by mecran01 at 7:59 AM on May 17, 2002

« Older Anti-Drug Ads are NOT Working:   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments