New Yorkers' guide to Networking events
Why are we still networking? That's right! For the complimentary food and open bar.
Dress the part
The goal is to blend in so no one will try to start up a conversation. The perfect camouflage is to wear dark color business casual attire. To really be invisible, get yourself a suit that's one size too big for that new intern look.
Get there early-ish. This one is tricky. You don’t want to get there too early, cause the food is not set up yet, people might want to chat to kill time. And you don’t want to get there too late because all the other hungry mouths getting in the way of your dinner.
Getting past the door
There are so many networking events in the city, you can check sources like Eventbrite, but what if you are not invited?
You could wear a name tag from any previous event and walk in with confidence. If they have to check you in, tell them the first letter of your name. (Really just say any letter, I will go for L, M, S, cause names start with those letters are most common) When he or she is going through the list or the pre-printed name tags, look over and agree to the name you feel most comfortable being. Best if several people are trying to check in at once, that way no one will notice you are not @Dwayne Johnson. (Unless you are Dwayne Johnson and reading this article then this will not apply😬)
Once you are in the event, locate the kitchen entrance and the bar area. Grab yourself a drink and stand next to that kitchen door. Don't be an amateur trying to chase down that waiter with the tray; be the first one to get your hands on those tasty “bite-size” Canapés. Quantity is the key to get dinner out of those mini suckers.
Getting out of conversations
No matter how hard you try to give out the anti-social vibe, people might still want to start a conversation. The trick is to hold a drink with a sip or 2 left so when someone is going on and on about the next game-changing startup, you can excuse yourself to "get another drink". It’s an acceptable excuse, cause how else are you able to keep up that mild level of pretended interest.
Exchange business cards
Saying " I forgot my business card" used to be a good way to dodge a connection. But with smartphones now, they can just write down your info. You could say " I'm just here for the food". But who wants that level of honesty between human beings? So give them your LinkedIn instead! They know you are going to ignore the request, you know you are going to ignore the request. Awkwardness diverted.