Last night, I went to a networking event sponsored by the casting website I write a monthly column for. It’s not an event I expected to get any business from; mainly, I went because I was interested in meeting some of the people who did—and didn’t—read the column.
Of course, probably since there was nothing at stake, I had one of the more interesting, engaging and informative evenings out I’ve had in awhile. I talked to only a handful of people, but enjoyed quality conversation with each of them, something that’s often in short supply in "real" networking events.
Most interesting was that one actor I spoke to gave me one of the best tips I’ve ever gotten on networking—and he claimed to be horrible at it!
He and his friend had come there together, and sheepishly admitted to having met no one until I came up and introduced myself. Yet in the middle of berating himself for being a bad networker, he came up with the following amazing nugget: "Yeah…if I came here with, say, the intention of getting as many people to remember my name, I’d probably have no problem." He went on to say that in his ‘day job’ as a bartender, he consistently engaged people he wasn’t particularly interested in because he had to in order to make money.
And I realized that a great "hack" for approaching an event I might be uncomfortable with is to treat it like an actor would: prepare, go in with an intention, and play that intention to the hilt, with all the various tactics an actor—or anyone really trying to achieve a goal—would. Or, as the saying goes, fake it till you make it.
What other "hacks" have you come up with to make networking more fun and less work?