Networking? Talk about a pointless snooze fest. Perhaps sometimes you just don’t feel like flapping your gums at everyone and exchanging business cards with Dirk from Bubba’s Fishhook Supply. But – curses – you’ve already paid for tonight’s event, and if you don’t show up your boss will know.
and be reassured that there is a way out. As I am at this point quite well-versed in the nuances of such events, here is a strategic plan that, if followed correctly, will allow you to attend the event and successfully network with NO ONE.
Good luck! Please note: This carefully laid out plan is based on a typical 2-hour networking event taking place from 5 to 7 p.m. Beyond this time frame, I’m afraid you’re on your own.
Keep in mind the golden rule of being anti-social is to avoid eye contact. Never, ever look anyone in the eye.
Step 1: Arrival
Arrive at the latest possible moment of what is deemed “fashionably” or “acceptably” late. This threshold for a 2-hour event is 15 minutes. Don’t mess this part up! It will throw off the whole scheme. Time Check: 5:15
Step 2: The Check In
Q: Did you pre-register? A: No, you did NOT (note: DO NOT PRE-REGISTER). You would like to pay by traveler’s checks, please. What? They don’t accept traveler’s checks? Oh, well, in that case, you need to run back to your car to find your credit card. (Note: Your credit card is wedged between two seat cushions and you need to use a wire hanger to fish it out of there.) Return to check-in. While you were gone, ten more people have showed up and are in line in front of you. Rats, it looks like you have to wait on the line again. Time Check: 5:15 – 5:45
Step 3: The Passed Hors D’Oeuvres
What ingredients are in these hors d’oeuvres? You have suddenly developed a severe allergy to kidney beans. Can the waiters guarantee that the food is completely devoid of this evil legume? They say yes – but really, are you going to take their word for it? Demand a tour of the kitchen facilities and insist that the only way you will feel comfortable consuming the food there is if you observe the chef making it for you on all bean-free surfaces, with special bean-proof gloves. Does he not have those gloves? No problem, you have a spare pair in your bag, which is in your trunk. Time Check: 5:45 – 6:10
Step 4: The Perusal of Publicity Materials
Carefully review each and every flyer and form on the Member Services table. Read over them as if they were chapters of War and Peace. Periodically muse things such as “Ahhh”, or “Interesting”, or “Oh, only that much to sponsor?” Meticulously read every single item on that table. If you own spectacles, now is a good time to use them, especially since they’re buried at the bottom of your purse, which requires you to set it on a table to search in a focused, off-putting manner. Grunt and puff a lot. Bonus points for a monocle. Time Check: 6:10 – 6:25 – more than halfway there!!!
Step 5: The Urgent Call
The old stand-by. This is a rookie move, really. It requires almost no previous experience to pull off. All you need is a cell phone and the ability to pace around furiously. Set an alarm on your phone to ring on cue (note: remember to turn the ringer up as loud as it will go! This step is only effective if everyone knows you are receiving an urgent call.) When the alarm goes off, flash an extremely puzzled look, followed by one of utter worry and inconvenience. You must convince the room that you do not want to pick up, but due to its important and urgent nature – alas – you must. Get out a tablet and pen to take notes. Hang up, and dial a follow-up call immediately. Time Check: 6:25 – 6:45
Step 6: The Bathroom Break
Self-Explanatory. Time Check: 6:45 – 6:55
Step 7: Track the Tasty Treats
Follow the guy with the scallops wrapped in bacon. Not only does this kill time, but it’s well worth it. Ride on his coat tails until he either vanishes into the kitchen (which you will then also disappear into and escape through a back door) or gets close enough to the exit for you to veer out unnoticed. Time Check: 6:55 – 7:00
Oh, WOW! Gosh darnit…IT’S TIME TO GO HOME ALREADY? Now get out of there and do what you really want to do, which probably involves a pair of pajamas, a bottle of Port, and a couple of fluffy felines.