Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Don’t Network. Have Fun.

Since law school, I have known that I do not generally enjoy traditional networking events that involve a large group of people meeting in a ballroom, event space, or bar and chatting over drinks and appetizers. Even putting aside the fact that I am an introvert (despite what others may believe!), I have always felt more engaged and that my time is better spent when either (a) meeting with a small group of people or (b) participating in activity-based networking. In the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Go Ahead, Skip that Networking Event,” David Burkus addresses the latter and explains why many people, introverts and extroverts alike, leave traditional networking events feeling that they have wasted their time. 

As Burkus explains, “…schmoozing at a mixer is far less likely to lead you to a powerful network than jumping into projects, teams, or activities that draw a diverse set of people together. The problem with networking events is that there’s no bigger purpose other than just having conversations with people, and without that bigger purpose—without that high-stakes activity—there’s little incentive to move beyond conversations that make us comfortable.” For many people, this means that a large amount of time spent at a networking event involves talking with people that they already know. 

Berkus’ solution is to participate in shared, “high-stakes activities” that involve working “toward something big enough that it can’t get accomplished alone.” Such “high-stakes activities” may include serving on a nonprofit board, participating in a recreational sports league, or taking up a new hobby. In my experience, not only do high-stakes activities naturally connect a diverse array of people, but they are generally fun. I have participated in “high-stakes activities” ranging from cooking classes to mini-golf to escape rooms. In each case, not only did I have a great time participating in the event, but connecting with new people felt natural—a stark contrast to the feeling I get when I walk into a room full of people clutching their drinks and huddled with others that they already know!

No comments :

Post a Comment