Monday, February 1, 2010

Networking: a pain-free approach (hint: go heavy on the cupakes)

It's February first but my New Years’ resolution momentum has not petered out yet. And since I spent most nights last year passed out in a stupor of fatigue, watching Project Runway re-runs, I have decided that this year will be Say Yes! Year. So last night, I said "Yes!" last night to an event hosted my Momasphere. The evite promised





I could take or leave the first three but when I saw the cupcakes, I knew it was meant to be. And I admit to having spent a good twenty minutes of my supposed-to-be-networking time planted in front of the Nine Cakes station, devouring bite-sized morsels of sheer delight and raving about them, with my mouth full to the baker who made them. How could I resist strawberry rosewater cupcakes with edible silver pearls fashioned from chocolate-covered puffed rice? You’d have to be a cyborg with no human feeling to say No to carrot cupcakes or the double chocolate ones, with gorgeous little purple flowers on top.

But I did stuff besides eating cupcakes. I also drank wine from bottles that had customized labels featuring the artwork of local Brooklyn artists from Brooklyn Oenology. (Quick show of hands: who knows how to pronounce that word, out loud? Isn’t there a law against that many vowels, all in a row?)

I was reminded that you are always rewarded for getting off your lazy ass and being a joiner when I ran into my best friend from high school there; she works with this amazing organization called Children of the City, who’ve been in Sunset Park for 28 years and offer support – educational, counseling, at-home visits -- to at-risk kids in the city, to break the cycle of poverty. You can donate or volunteer here (if Gwenyth Paltrow’s on board, then you know you better be, too).

But I didn’t just stuff my face with cupcakes and alcohol while listening to how others are actually doing things to better the world. No, sir. I also networked. And I’ll give it to those ladies at Momasphere and PSP Career Networking, it was pretty painless.

See, typically, if I had to choose between getting dental work done and networking, I’d go for the dental work. I understand meeting people is important and rewarding but it takes a special person to know how to break into a conversation that’s in full awing and stick yourself right into it, or how to excuse yourself gracefully from a tete a tete that’s run its course. I’m just not gifted in that way. But the ladies in charge of this little soiree did a bang-up job of pairing up people in the same industry and making introductions, thus making the networking rather easy, in fact.

In the spirit of networking night, I’ll share a tip I learned recently:

1. You can take honesty too far. Refrain from asking others if they ever considered using a little splash of their baby’s breast milk bottle in their morning coffee, when they ran out of milk. I know WE can talk about that stuff, but you shouldn’t do it during networking.

(Incidentally . . . have you considered it? I never actually DID it but I can’t drink coffee without milk and I do need coffee in the morning so there were a few close calls. Then I realized I could just buy Coffee Mate and life got a lot saner.