Everything I know about networking, I learned from The Bachelor… or something.
Apparently there is a television program that is popularly referred to as “The Bachelor” that I have never seen. In fact, I’m not even sure when it’s on, or to which terrible network I should be addressing my strongly worded letter regarding appropriate human-like role models. I can only assume that it airs every single night with some type of pre-episode talk show hosted by Steve Harvey (c’mon!) and post-episode wrap up hosted by Cindy Kardashian that invariably leads into the “news.” In my mind, I imagine it as a 5 hour marathon. This makes me want to die.
Before I continue, I’d like to go on record as stating that I have the least possible amount of desire that one can possibly have to ever watch an episode of the Bachelor. The. Least. Possible.
At this stage, after reading possibly one of the best sales pitches ever on why you should be reading this blog, you might be asking yourself… “Self, why do you think DC is writing this blog on something he so clearly isn’t interested in?” This… this is a great question.
With that, let the mayhem begin:
1. Stand out… but for the right reasons
Networking is a challenging thing no matter the situation, best stated as a “practice” rather than something you can ever master. Society changes so rapidly that in order to stay relevant, we as networkers must also change and adapt. One of the 25(!) contestants(?) on “The Bachelor” took it upon herself to adapt her social networking skills by thinking of a new and interesting way to stand out from the other contestants. By bringing a chicken. O_o
First, taking a chicken on a televised first date has to be some form of animal cruelty. No chicken in their right mind likes going on a regular first date, let alone a mostly-staged televised one. Besides this obvious ratings grab, it’s actually just a bad idea. Let’s say The Bachelor sees this gravy boat of contestants, notices the chicken, and is so… whatever that he must – MUST – talk to this specimen first. Let’s say that happens. What inevitably comes next? They spend an inordinate amount of time talking about a CHICKEN! That sucks. And that’s also why using a kitschy prop or gimmick is a bad idea when you’re networking – people will always be more interested in the prop than they are in you.
The question you (and apparently the Bachelor) have to ask yourself is… do you want to work for a company that cares about a chicken, or one that cares about the content on your resume? Ultimately Sally or whatever her name is may actually have been a strong candidate, but we’ll never know… because she brought a chicken.
2. Know your elevator pitch
Perhaps Sally – or indeed her chicken – could’ve benefited from my next point: know your elevator pitch. As I’ve mentioned in my previous two blogs (which are not clickbait), you shouldn’t approach your network with the “what can my network do for me” attitude, but rather… “what can I bring to my network.” This isn’t a time for you to (necessarily) pitch your company/idea, or to talk about how much Karma you have on your Reddit posts… this is a time for you to make yourself relevant to a need they have so they see the value in connecting with you.
How many times have you found yourself standing there during the rose ceremony, just outside the circle of conversation, while someone drones on to your date about that time they wanted chocolate ice cream but ordered vanilla because it has two less calories, or how D = Cd × A × ½ × r × V2 where Cd is a function of your Reynolds number (Sorry, I checked out and started looking at CFD on some transonic airfoils… I’m back now!)? Like every time, and no one cares. Your job in the practice of networking is to find a way to take someone else’s interests, and your interests, and make them relevant to each other. Kind of like this crappy blog!
3. Handle rejection gracefully
Before we stop twisting the knife that is “the Bachelor” in DC’s leg, I want to bring up one final point. Handle rejection gracefully. If you miss out on a job or get passed up for “a better candidate” use that opportunity to make yourself the better candidate for next time. Don’t talk a bunch of crap about how you were really the better choice, and definitely don’t denigrate the company or a competing candidate – you never know when you’ll cross that path again.
Lest ye be like Kasey (with a K) a contestant on (PLOT TWIST) the Bachelorette who apparently says “pshyeah” a lot, sings to some girl on a pile of trash called Liberty State Park, and gets the rage when someone decides to “guard and protect her heart”… I guess. Poor lil guy. The details are a little fuzzy, but the bottom line is: you know that there’s going to be some spin off series, and you want to be sure you’re on that too because you know… your other career prospects have been ruined by going on a definitely-scripted -“reality” show.
All of this Bachelor garbage aside, networking is hard. It’s a skill that not everyone is great at but it’s a skill that everyone must possess. Every person you meet is an opportunity to network. Every blog you read, every social encounter you have… all an opportunity to perform. So network hard, and know that if all else fails, you can always just go on “the Bachelor.”
About the Author:
Tweet DC @HeySeeDC He doesn’t use twitter, but instead has an account that is roughly analogous to his real life digital persona.
DC is however a real live person that works in the Garage at NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. He is a contributor for their blog which they apparently thought was a good idea. In his spare time he likes to dial random numbers from his office phone to ask people how they’re doing. Once he also ran the 400m relay using an umbrella as the baton unfurling it right before passing it to his teammate and spectacularly lost the race. He also wrote this entire bio himself, in the third person.