You know that scene in "The Matrix" where Keanu says, "I know kung fu" because he's fully had the knowledge implanted IN HIS BRAIN?
Yeah, well, here's the start of my absolute best advice for networking your balls off for next time you're at that sweet A-list event, and you can be like "I know exactly what that hustler Mandy would do if she were in this exact same situation."
Warning: Networking and reaching out to strangers (especially high-powered ones who could make or break, or at least influence, your career) isn't for everyone.
In fact, sometimes it's just not right depending on the scene (as it can be deemed very uncool to "try"). Gone wrong it can come across as hyper-aggressive, gross, alienating and a total miscalculation. Use with caution.
But I'd rather risk going wrong sometimes than never risk at all. Because when it's done right, it can lead to some really awesome personal and professional connections -- or hell, even just rad snapshots in time.
Personally, connections I've met through networking have led to TV deals, interviews, jobs, dates and life experiences that I never would have had if I just wallflowered it in the corner afraid of approaching someone cooler than me at the party.
There are tons of moves to do when networking, but I'm going to primarily focus on the whole mental attitude in this first installment because I really think it's the most important part. (Also: I've recommended Louise Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" in a few comments here and there, but I can't underscore how much that book upped my confidence level. Terrific, quick read. Ignore the stuff you don't like
1. First things first, y'all: It's important to actually recognize and acknowledge and get in the mindset that you are going to an event where you will be mingling with folks you may never have the chance to mingle with again.
Although -- when I've ACCIDENTALLY ended up at a killer event I'm definitely not above Wiki-ing attendees right then and there on my phone if I haven't prepped beforehand. There are also secrets for sussing out who's who and how they can be valuable for your objectives (even if the objective is just to have a great convo), but I'll get to that in a future post.
And please, please know that I enjoy talking to the waitress and busboy most of all at a party, I swear to God, so I'm not trying to sound asshole-ish or indicate one person has more "value" than another, but the reality of life is that one person has actual hiring capacity and another person may not.
Also, this first point is not to freak or stress you out. If you meet no one or "miss your one shot at introducing yourself to someone forever," then honestly, no worries. You can't change what happens.
But I emphasize this first part because I've noticed (especially amongst extremely jaded New Yorkers) it's very easy to just feel and act totally over it. I think that being unimpressed and entitled and ungrateful is like a virus nowadays.
Realize: "I'm going to be around a lot of people that yes one day very soon they will be in my tight little entourage and they will be calling ME for favors" ("The Secret!" woo-hoo!) ... but right now, acknowledge that the event you're going to is giving access to a rarefied highly influential world -- and get in the mindset that you'll be around a lot of influencers.
It's so easy to just throw away a potentially life-changing evening. Make the most of it! Motivate yourself to do research! More on the research part in a future post!
2. Don't ever forget: You can be totally pumped, powerful and respectful while also not being an entitled fanboy spazz.
The key in your approach and your energy is to balance knowing your own worth and value while also having awe and respect for the people with whom you're networking. Kathy Griffin calls this "knowing your place" in the industry. So know your place (power-wise) at the party.
Know you absolutely rock (I'm sure you do) but also have respect and deference and a great energy. And obviously, if the party is filled with media and entertainment people, the vibe is going to be one of cynicism. So I don't mean being nauseatingly Pollyanna. I just mean be someone who people want to be around.
2. Affirm you're going to make the most of the event/night/whatever.
Know you're going to have a terrific time and everyone is going to love you and you're going to be your best self. Yeah! Sure, this might sound no-duh but it is so important (and OF COURSE the reality is that you may fall on your face but man you have such a better chance of doing great if you put yourself in a positive mental state first).
So know that YOU bring whatever energy to any situation. Not other people. Be a Jedi master in this. When you are joy: People want to do things for you. Don't engage or take the bait of the mindfuckers who try to communicate that you suck.
A classic line said to me by a socialite once, upon recognizing me at a party: "Oh wow. EVERYONE really is at this party." Nice. "Everyone." Yes, just me and the homeless people stone cold chillin' at the party.
But did I let bitch rain on my parade? NOPE. So stay positive, grateful and actively let things slide off your back. It's just such an attractive quality. It makes people want to help you.
Every relationship and interaction, in a way, is a value exchange. Sometimes it's quid pro quo and networking and business. But other times, remember: The value you are bringing is simply in being a motherfucking PLEASURE to be around.
It's like that whole saying: Men want to be with someone who during sex will make them forget that they will ever die. I think actually this is a lovely seduction strategy for life in general. If you are infused with life force and gratitude and pleasure, that is the most attractive quality on the planet.
3. Actively resist the temptation to come from a place of fear and toxicity.
It's easy to do this as human beings. But coming from a place of fear positions you as constantly on guard: "OMG what are people thinking." And that's just going to invite in fear from all angles.
Consider that approach vs. coming instead from a place of SECURE FUCKING ABUNDANCE, WOO HOO!!!! Actively think: "I am a brilliant JOY-filled person who attracts nothing but success." That's a much more attractive energy and will also invite everyone to interact with you as such. Happiness attracts happiness. Gratitude attracts gratitude.
True confession: I was a painfully shy, insecure, anxiety-riddled dork in high school. Not a total outcast by any means -- but someone who would get ignored by a friend if more popular friends were around. You know how that goes.
I only got semi-hot and fairly confident later in life after going through the complete and utter and total ego demolition of divorce at age 30. I phoenix-rising-ed that shit. So when things really started to change for the better in my life, I had a dream that was a flashback to high school one night.
In the dream: I was walking the halls and suddenly I realized that any of the fist-clenching victimhood I felt when I was younger -- as a too-tall, too-weird dorkbot who was "less than" and rejected by the popular girls and humiliated and not invited and embarrassed and ashamed and omgomgomgomg -- in this dream, it was so clear for the first time in my entire life: I had created all of that that. I had created that energy in every moment.
When I walked the halls in the dream -- suddenly all of that fear and pain and awfulness and rejection stuff, I saw it for the illusion that it was. For the "pay no attention man behind the curtain" "Wizard of Oz" facade that it was. I realized that it was an energy and a cloud that I had brought through my own excessive stress, worry, fear, obsessing and fear-fear-fear-fear.
In the dream, that whole energy was gone and swept away when I saw that I was the one in control. It was one of the most powerful life-affirming dreams of my life.
And OK, I seriously have loads more to write, but I think this is a decent start for this series.
Are you totally different than you used to be in high school? Were you an in-between-social-circles dork like me or were you a popular kid? (To be fair I was a Yearbook Dork, a very specific breed.)
Do you have any tricks for bringing this kind of magnetic energy to networking situations? What are your specific networking questions so I can answer in future installments? Do you actually want more tips like this? Will you share your best tips below? Have you ever had networking go spectacularly wrong? Go spectacularly right? Will you start an XOJANE Yearbook with me? Can I be editor?
You can subscribe to Mandy's free podcast at http://bit.ly/newswhore.