It’s exceedingly difficult to think of a douchier phrase than networking event.
Yogalates class? Close, but don’t think so.
“I only go to European music festivals, they’re way more authentic.” Okay, that’s douchier. But don’t hear that one too often.
For reference, here is a European music festival…looks like an actual nightmare
Anyway, there’s a reason why many people cringe at the notion of a networking event. It conjures up notions of forced conversations, fake laughs, and circling vultures throwing out their business cards like rotten tomatoes at a Dane Cook stand-up show. But real estate is a people business. If you’re going to succeed, it helps to be a good networker. Here are some tips on how.
DO: Head straight to the bar
Ernest Hemingway, one of America’s most prolific alcoholics, once said “I drink to make other people more interesting.” Considering your whole job at a networking event involves being interesting, Ernie hit the nail on the head with that one.
Even the most boring people and subjects can be made tolerable with a coupla’ beers. At a recent event, some lady decided to talk to me about, wait for it, her divorce. Why she decided to bring that up is beside me, but luckily I take my own advice. I had thrown back three Old Fashions, which meant I nimbly steered the topic from how shitty her ex-husband was to dating in the age of smartphone apps. Something less emotional, but still interesting. After three Old Fashions, I like to think I could successfully play charades with Helen Keller. Alcohol is the essential social lubrication, so do yourself (and the poor schmucks that have to talk to you) a favor and lube up.
DON’T: Constantly dart your eyes around looking for someone cooler to talk to
Even if you’re swirling down the vortex of boring conversation, always keep eye contact. Quickest way to show someone you don’t care is to not make eye contact when they’re speaking. No matter how boring, at least feign interest by smiling and nodding like a dainty Southern Belle. I’d love to take a look at your live-action Zelda screenplay! Then, once you hear the faintest lull in conversation, you make your escape from conversational Alcatraz. Create some flustered excuse about needing to give your cat its glaucoma medication, walk away looking at your phone, and boom, conversation done.
DO: Network with people you think you’ll have a connection with
Went to college? Network with your fellow alumni. Like volleyball? Join an intramural league. Love BDSM? Get your whip, throw on your assless chaps and dog collar, and meet me in Vegas for our annual conference at the MGM on December 9-12!
DON’T: Be boring
Remember the 2007 show The Pickup Artist on VH1? Oh, you don’t because it was shitty and only ran for two seasons? Well, touché. For those who don’t appreciate fine television, I’ll give you the premise— a bunch of dudes who can’t get laid learn how to get laid from a guy named “Mystery” who dresses like a druggy Harry Potter. Mystery is indisputably lame, but his essential point is to seduce is to not be boring and cliché. Hence the weird wizard hat, I guess.
The wizard hat is interesting! Having an abstract noun as a first name is interesting! (and mysterious) Although networking events aren’t cheesy reality TV dating shows, they’re similar enough. What you do is not interesting. Nobody wants to hear about the condo you just listed, unless the Queen of England was recently found using it as a meth lab. Small talk is boring. Yes, Sepulveda is a great alternative to the 405 during rush hour. Instead, try talking about something unusual and maybe mildly controversial. Black toilets, for example. They’re disgusting and I don’t know why anyone would have one. What do you think?
DO: Properly vet your wingman
Learn from John McCain’s mistake— make sure you properly vet your networking event running mate. Wingmen won’t help you get business when they steal your thunder through unhinged statements about controversial social issues. If you bring a friend, make sure they possess actual human social skills and are NOT in the same business as you.
Never be afraid to go solo, either. As my great-grandmother’s tombstone reads, “who needs friends when a martini will do?!” If Justin Timberlake can take the solo plunge, so can you.
DON’T: Network with so many friends you ignore the reason you’re there
“OMG Heather was such a bitch at Todd’s birthday party five years ago!”
You’re here to get business, okay? You’re not here to reminisce on how pissed of Heather got when she found out Todd cheated on her with Raquel, the slutty Pisces from Tampa. Go meet some strangers!
DO: Be strategic with sexual advances
Notice how I’m not making a bold pronouncement, here. Just… be strategic. If you look like 90’s Val Kilmer or Diane Lane in any decade (talk about aging like a fine wine!), then by all means use your looks to your advantage. Sex sells. But nothing repels people more than unwanted sexual advances, and that’s even truer at a networking event. For the love of God, don’t be a creep.
DO: Network with people who have money
Don’t shoot the messenger here! Rich people will need more (and cooler) real estate, so try and meet as many of them as possible. Don’t worry about if you’re not rich yourself. Go to Whole Foods beforehand and slyly drop a receipt from your pocket. Let your fellow networker see the $13 you spent on non-GMO organic almonds. The investment will be totally worth it, and now everyone will think you’re a baller.
DO: Go in looking for friends
The most important piece of advice. People do business with their friends, so make a friend. Mention what you do, artfully say how amazing you are at selling/buying/leasing real estate, throw in a token “the market’s crazy right now!” and then just be fun. I’m always put off when people shove their business card in my face and are like “INVEST IN MY APP!” Come on, man. It’s a two-way street and grown adults need foreplay. (Unless you’re a slutty Pisces from Tampa, of course.)
Networking events can be intimidating because “networking” is the douchey verb for “making friends.” So don’t network, make friends. Play the long game. Have fun. Don’t be a douche.
Written by Tommy Adelson AKA “The Country Club Broker”
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