A Different Perspective on “the Art of Networking”

You have undoubtedly attended a networking event, and so you understand the significance of knowing how to introduce yourself. My initial plan before heading into my first networking event was to connect with people in my field. Given that the event was geared toward young professionals of any industry, that was likely everyone else’s goal too. I soon realized the repetitive trend of meeting someone whose name was immediately followed by a job title. That pause, a few minutes into a conversation, when you both realize you’re pursuing different industry roles, lacking that commonality. I made a friend that evening who warned me that “people are here to use you to their advantage.” That’s not untrue - you can sense that in the aforementioned pause. Everyone is searching for opportunities to further build their careers.

From that point, I decided not to be associated with a job title. I promoted myself as “new to the city.” I turned Toronto into the commonality between me and anyone I shook hands with. I learned that I was connecting more organically by discussing hobbies than by sharing - or comparing - professional backgrounds. I’ve actually met a few people at social events who refuse to answer the inevitable question: “what do you do?” It’s necessary to be passionate about both sides; however, try treating your day job, your dream job, or your side hustle as an afterthought. It will still come up naturally in conversation, however it just helps your meeting feel like less of a power struggle.

As we move into the holidays, remember the equal importance of knowing how to pitch others. You’re likely bringing a plus-one to a soiree, a significant other to your office’s year-end celebration or a friend to a Christmas party. In advance, take fifteen minutes to decide how you’re going to hype him or her for the introduction. Their confidence will increase instantly, paving the way for a more positive interaction. Accolades are impressive, but if you share what someone enjoys rather than what someone does, you may find that you’re not just making contacts - you’re making friends.