The Pluck Guide to Networking
Take a deep breath.
Write an email. Write fifty emails. Write five hundred emails. Send emails to people you don’t know. Send emails to people your parents say you should talk to, even though your eyes may get stuck in the back of your head from how hard you roll them when you read the initial suggestions. E-mail your former bosses. E-mail your sister’s boyfriend’s roommate’s cousin who works in Education or something and “might know some people.” Bring your MacBook to Starbucks for a change of scenery. Send three emails, but mostly look at shoes on the Target website. You’ll need sensible flats for interviews anyway, right?
Drink lots of coffee with lots of sugar but only a little cream.
Subscribe to approximately one million listservs for things that are even tangentially related to any profession you have ever considered or have ever heard of. Eventually you will delete all of these emails without reading them, but for those first couple of months you will feel productive just by opening your inbox.
Other procrastinatory activities that will give you that feeling: color coordinating long, complicated lists of the jobs you’ve applied to; hand writing thank you cards on gender neutral stationary; reading resume writing books in Barnes & Noble without actually buying them.
Use your father’s contacts. Feel guilty. Get desperate. Feel less guilty.
Go to networking events for young professionals. Lurk by the bar, debate ordering either a gin and tonic or a beer. It’s a weekday, you should probably just get a beer. Fuck it. You’ve been stuck in your apartment working hard on cover letter drafts all day, and you deserve it. Plus it’s a really hot night outside. Get a gin and tonic. Lurk some more.
Wear a nametag. This will make you feel extraordinarily awkward, but everyone else is doing it, so you guess that’s a bit less awkward. Who picked this bar? It is way too dark in here to actually see anyone, let alone to be able to talk to them. Why didn’t you bring Jenny, that one employed friend of yours so you could have someone to talk to? Oh right, you have to talk to other people. That’s what networking is.
Quit drinking coffee.
Collect business cards. Consider creating some to describe yourself during this transitional period. You could give yourself a title like “Freelance writer and editor” or “Recessionista.” Your cards could be so pretty with a simple, punchy graphic design, like a pattern of squares in primary colors. Spend three hours perusing websites and designing your perfect business card. They could be in a non-traditional shape, like a square! A square!
Don’t actually get business cards.
Remember that balding, mid-thirties guy from the young professionals networking event? The one who stared at your chest and who gave you his boring, rectangular business card? You know, the card that had the Shepard Fairey Obama picture in the corner? Go to coffee with him. Meet at 3:00 because it clearly cannot be a date if it occurs before 5 PM. Wait… is this a date?
Arrive 15 minutes early so you can buy your own coffee (iced this time), and be seated by the time he walks in. Offer to buy his coffee -- then it’s definitely networking and not a date. He will still stare at your chest.
He will figure out that you do not know anyone worth knowing in this town. You need him and his political contacts and his expertise in the development of small, politically minded organizations looking for new talent. You have nothing to offer in return except your unbridled enthusiasm, penchant for witty turns of phrase and your rack, which he’s still staring at.
Send three hundred more emails. Approximately forty people will follow up. You will follow up with approximately thirteen of them.
Drink less coffee. Get a job. Drink more coffee. Return the good karma by responding to laughably naïve emails you receive from college seniors at your alma mater. You have no personal connection to them in this universe besides that you both lived in the same ridiculous town for four years and you have 28 Facebook friends in common. Write this 22-year-old person back.
Let them buy you coffee. Show up on time. Smile. Be kind. Put a folded copy of their resume (Personal Assistant/Intern for Julian Schnabel? Camp counselor? Who are these people?) inside your tattered notebook. Send exactly three emails on their behalf; no more, no less. Nothing will come of it, but the simple process of doing these things makes you an inherently better person.
Drink more coffee. It will be easier this way.author's note: credit where credit is due, this fictional essay was inspired by lorrie moore's how to become a writer found here: http://tronic.tumblr.com/post/3729198002/how-to-become-a-writer-by-lorrie-moore - notes
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