I went to a meeting for the foreign press in Moscow yesterday. The setting was nice – out on the Smolenskaya Le Pain patio, with lilac bushes and rush hour traffic in the background. I thought it would be a good, if painful networking opportunity, since I’m looking for journalism jobs.
I was right – a full night of awkward networking. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a party where I didn’t know anyone. I tried to remember that many of them must feel awkward as well, but that didn’t really help as everyone else either came with friends, or was much farther along in their careers than I was. I felt a little bit like scum of the earth.
Oh well. At least I can now recognize Moscow News, Voice of America, AFP, and APTN correspondents and editors by name/face. Also, I got a hold of one business card when I dropped a few words of my measly experience. Perhaps a freelance opportunity in the future?
I wish I could say that I acted out of giving and grace in a new situation instead of animal-instinct fear and wounded pride. Those who never try never make mistakes, though, right?
A few tips on networking from The Simple Dollar:
- Make yourself approachable and approach others
- Be reasonable in appearance – not dressed to kill, but appropriate
- Be outgoing. This is not the time to sit in the corner. Try to start a conversation with everyone there, then focus on the people you “click” with. (This is better than my paranoid tendency to zero in on someone, and interrogate them for the rest of the evening!)
- Don’t just go once and call it a waste of time. You have to keep coming back, and build familiarity. Give it time.
- Also, always pay it forward. Help someone when you see an opportunity, and don’t worry about them paying you back.
PS. the above lovely Le Pain photo is stolen from talented Amsterdam photographer Schlijper’s website.