Monday, July 14, 2008

Three Reasons To Attend The Dreaded Networking Event

On July 22, I'll be attending a networking event in Washington, DC with other Stanford alumni and their friends and families. Once upon a time, my first reaction to a potential networking event would have been, "Ugh, do I have to?" followed by, "Ugh, I guess I should," in turn followed by me most likely skipping the event at the last minute. But after experiencing several of these events first hand, I'd like to share my new, improved attitude.

Here are three reasons to attend the Dreaded Networking Event:

1.) Networking is Fun!

People who don't like meeting new people will tell me that they'd rather have cavities filled without anesthesia than go to a networking event. I'll let you in on a secret: I'm one of you! It's not easy for me to approach strangers. I always worry that I'll do or say something wrong. But despite my shyness, I've had a great time at every event I've been to. There's often tasty, free food and drink. The people are tuned into 'friendly mode,' and so even if you don't approach anyone, someone is likely to talk to you. And if you've decided to attend/been invited to an event, you likely have something in common with other people at the event, making conversation a snap.

2.) Networking is Profitable!

Granted, the profitability of a networking event isn't as direct as, say, calling someone on the phone and trying to sell to him or her. But so far, I've had the great fortune to meet several published authors and editors, and subsequently added these contacts to my lists on Facebook, Linkedin, GoodReads, etc. An author is much more likely to write a blurb for my novel if she or he knows me, and one of those editors is more likely to read my work if I make a note of our conversation at X networking event. Building a solid network of connections is the surest way to success for almost any industry.

3.) Networking is Healthy!

Let's face it, spending hours hunched in front of your computer writing every day may be intellectually stimulating, but it's not very healthy for your body or social skills. Us writers tend to miss out on the physical activity we need and the social stimulation we crave. Attending a networking event forces us to actually, physically go somewhere, to (gasp!) stand and walk around, and to converse in person with fellow human beings. Who knows, you might even get an inspiration for your next story! Just try to go easy on those delicious high-calorie appetizers and desserts if you want to maximize the health benefits.

In order to take advantage of these benefits, find networking meetings for an organization you're in, or if there aren't any, join a new organization. Grab a drink and a plate, introduce yourself to someone, and let yourself enjoy networking.
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