Lauren Marinigh

Why I Hate Networking Events

By Lauren | November 2, 2016 | 0 Comment

Me: “Hi. I’m Lauren and I work in social media marketing at a non-profit organization called Futurpreneur Canada.”

Them: “Nice to meet you Lauren. I’m XYZ and I work at XYZ doing XYZ.”

Me: “Nice to meet you XYZ.”

………….. crickets …………….. awkward silence ……………

This is a sample conversation of a typical networking event to me. You march around, the introverted me shyly looks at my phone until someone locks eyes with me and we connect. We introduce ourselves, tell each other what we do, maybe exchange cards, and go along our way. It’s awkward, unnatural, and the thought of it makes me cringe.

What I really want to tell people at these events is that I’m an introvert who has made the best connections with people behind my computer screen. Yes, I’m one of those Millennial things that you’ll hear the Baby Boomers referring to as lazy, unmotivated, unsatisfied, selfie-takers. I didn’t grow up with social media and texting being the main way of communicating, there was a point in my life where these things didn’t exist for me either, but I’m part of the first generation to actually embrace these new revelations. Maybe I can blame them for making my hate for networking events so strong, however, if it wasn’t for those time-sucking social media platforms, I wouldn’t be employed today, and well, we’d still be reading about the latest business innovation via the newspaper which turns our fingers black and kills trees.

Anyways, back to my main point. Why I hate networking events. To me, there are a few reasons why.

  1. I’m an introvert who feels uncomfortable marching up to people, sticking myself in a conversation and shoving who I am and what I do down peoples throats as if they care.
  2. I have piles of business cards I’ve collected at these events, and even more LinkedIn connections. Have these new connections come in handy in my life and career? Yes, but rarely. The people that have provided me with the most value are people that I connected with in a deeper way (like invited out to coffee). I’ve spent full days at conferences with new “friends” and maybe talked to them once after the fact and never again. Lets face it, you connect because you’re forced to and you aren’t connecting in a natural way.
  3. Weren’t we always taught to not talk to strangers? Obviously this changes as you get older but it still doesn’t feel natural. I may talk to strangers when they come into my office for a business meeting, but that serves a purpose, aimlessly talking to strangers in hopes you may land yourself on one that can be of any value to you just seems a little silly doesn’t it?

Networking events are just awkward. If we were forced to make friends, or find a boyfriend/girlfriend the same way we’re forced to make business connections, can you imagine how terrible our lives would be? But saying that, this doesn’t mean I don’t attend networking events. I purposely make an effort to attend different events in my industry, however, I bring a partner in crime to help me get through it. Why? Because when conversation dies, you have a backup. You can feed off each other and work together to tackle the crowds which is significantly less awkward then doing it yourself. And hey, if the event is lame, and you meet no one new or even relatively of value, at least you spent a night hanging out with a friend right?

I DO hate networking events, but I realize the importance of putting myself out there face-to-face with other like-minded people. Do I think I’m going to leave these events filled with amazing new contacts that I’ll keep in touch with for years to come, no. But being active in my industry is critical to building my brand and pushing myself out of my comfort zone helps me develop into the confident person I am today.

So now that I’ve vented in this entire post about networking events, I’d love to hear in the comments below what some of your tips are to overcome this fear and disliking of them. How can I get over my hate for them and learn to love them? Who has the secret recipe?

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Lauren

Sharing my inspiration, advice, opinion & fun stuff one post at a time.

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