Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating: The Initial Approach Part I

So let’s start with the ini­tial approach.  Real­is­ti­cally, there are three ways to meet poten­tial dating vic­tims.  Two of which are very tar­geted and delib­erate. The other one is more luck and timing.

  1. The first way (and the bravest if you ask me) is blindly approaching the person. This tends to happen at more casual outings and events etc. (this is actually way less scary at a networking event).
  2. The second way is online dating, aka OK Cupid, Match or some other constituent (LinkedIn and in some cases Twitter, is the online equivalent in the professional realm.)
  3. The final way tends to be more happenstance.  You meet somebody through a student organization or through a class project and hit it off.  Worst case, you're at the same event and you're both waiting in line for the bathroom (an unfortunate place to be in).

We’re going to focus on hap­pen­stance today and touch upon the braver approaches later. Let’s ease into this net­working thing.

The ini­tial approach, regard­less of the cir­cum­stance, is gen­er­ally awk­ward, but often times we walk away thinking (I hope), “that wasn’t too bad” or at least, “it could have been worse.”  And the person you were talking to on most occa­sions is gen­er­ally nice and recep­tive.  It’s easier to meet some­body when you share a common interest.  “I met someone I would later date because we were in a play together,” says Amy Henion, a recent Com­mu­ni­ca­tions grad, “we both obvi­ously were the­ater geeks, and hit it off right away.”  Net­working gen­er­ally works the same way.

"On Wednesdays we wear pink!" source: perezhilton.com

On Wednes­days we wear pink!” Mean Girls
 source: perezhilton​.com

The eas­iest way to meet some­body is to go to events and join pro­fes­sional and stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions related to your major and inter­ests, thus, delib­er­ately putting your­self in sit­u­a­tions where it’s nat­ural to meet some­body who is doing some­thing you’re inter­ested in.  Plus, you have that common thread now, so there is some­thing to talk about aside from the weather, the Sox’s latest loss, or one of the Kardashians.

Example: if you’re a Phys­ical Ther­a­pist or in any health­care field for that matter, con­sider vol­un­teering at the Red Cross, or for a big event like the Boston Marathon.  You’ll meet people with some pull and it looks good on a resume (just saying).

You can also tap the net­work you already have.  Lots of people get together through friends and net­working is sim­ilar.  Ask former co-​​op super­vi­sors, fac­ulty, friends and even family if they know anyone working at “X” com­pany.  Those are easy matches and gen­er­ally lead to solid con­ver­sa­tions.  Just make sure you follow through so you don’t make your friend look like a fool, or ruin a poten­tial match made in heaven.

Do you have a suc­cessful “hap­pen­stance” net­working story?  What are tips you would give and ques­tions you asked?

Kelly Scott is Assis­tant Director of Career Devel­op­ment and Social Media Out­reach at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. A social media enthu­siast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about work­place cul­ture and per­sonal online branding. For more career insight, follow/​tweet her at @kellydscott4.

Pic­ture: sourced from tvguide​.com