Adventures in networking.

June 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment

I’m slightly awkward. Well, all right, probably no more awkward than most folks, but I tend to over think and over analyze my awkwardness to the point that it becomes even worse. I definitely get inside my own head, so to speak.

This situation makes trying to network difficult, if not impossible.

Lucky for me, my friend Lisa has some of the same reservations about networking. So we’re able to support and push each other to attend networking events and talk to people. Most of the time.

Probably the most ridiculous situation occurred when we attended an event for a prominent LGBT organization. The room was very crowded and very loud. Seriously, it was awful. And we were both frustrated about our unemployment situation and not at all in the mood to smile and chat and network. But shit we were going to be social if it killed us.

So we stood in the corner talking to each other. Getting elbowed out of the way left and right. Feeling overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and the entire situation. Feeling victorious for even standing in a room full of people, even if we didn’t talk to any of them. (Small victories, right?)

Sure, we chatted with a few kind folks but nothing major. Aaaaand fine, it was mostly because we were kind of in the way, and they were too nice to pass by without stopping to talk. Then, this woman for the organization hosting the event sauntered over to chat us up. Asked us the usual questions, i.e. where do you work, how did you find out about the event, and what did you study. When she found out we’re unemployed, she mentioned an LGBT job listserv that we should join. Her look and her tone made it obvious that she thought we were together. But Lisa and I kept our game faces on, both handing her our business cards.

“Oh did GW design these for you?” our conversation partner asked.

I replied, “No actually my boyfriend made them for me.”

Her face changed completely. I really thought she might pass out or something. The seconds before she spoke seemed to last forever, as I think everyone involved realized the extent to which my mention of “boyfriend” challenged all assumptions previously  made. She excused herself and moved away from us as quickly as possible. And shortly after that incident, Lisa and I left the event. We realized that we probably gave the impression that we were a couple, since we only talked to each other most of the night and stood in a corner. Plus the crowd made us stand closer together than we otherwise probably would have. And when she asked our job situation, I said “We” were finishing up our degrees.

It’s usually  best to reserve talking about “we” for you and your partner, especially to people you just met.  When you’ve been standing close together talking only to each other. At an event for a LGBT organization.

Needless to say, this was probably our biggest networking disaster, if only because we must have spent way too much time talking only to ourselves. But also because it was awkward. In this case, though, the awkwardness was not our fault!

So last night, we went to another event and did much much much better. Let’s put it this way: I don’t think anyone thought we were a couple. Big win. Also we talked to a lot of people, so hey another big win. Look at that.

Ultimately, we should be proud of ourselves for trying. And for making progress. But most of all, we have a plethora of ridiculous experiences to look back on and laugh about.

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Step away from the scale. (Seriously.) Sunny Morning Muffins

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