Okay, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a true story… Which subsequently makes it worse.
Last year, I attended a discussion about networking followed by a catered opportunity to speak with the panelist. As is the case with any law student, I was excited by the idea of free food and networking opportunities. Armed with my plate of hors d’ouevres and feeling bold, I decided to forgo moving towards an empty table and sit at one occupied by two of the panelist. Initially, everything went just as you would expect; I waited for them to finish up their conversation and we exchanged a few pleasantries. As they left to get their own food, we even shared a small joke about me watching the panelist belongings until they returned.
A few minutes after they left, I happened to look up and notice one of the panelists staring me down as he took his food to a table on the other side of the room. I cannot emphasis this enough, he stared at me as he went to another table. We were literally looking into each other’s eyes, as I sat at a table with his belongings and he sat some place else. Everything about his expression made it clear that he refused to return to the table as long as I was there. Taking the hint, I decided that the best thing to do was to leave him be for the rest of the night. Sadly, this was not to be our last interaction.
Towards the end of the night, I ran into the same panelist again, only this time instead of me entering into his conversation circle, he barged into mine. Literally, he walked into the conversation I was having with two other people, asked why I wasn’t at the table watching his belongings and then proceeded to stand in front of me so that he physically pushed me out of the discussion. At one point, I said something and he had turn around to make it clear that he was responded to my comment. After a few minutes of this, I just decided to move on to greener pastures.
So why am I sharing this story? Because when people say that networking events are a way to get to know a company, they mean it. Prior to this event, I felt that the most important aspect of a networking was to be impressive. While I do think this is important, it’s also important to check out the personalities of the people you might be working with someday. Sure, you could argue that I was wrong to come to the table, but did he need to toss me stink-eye from across the room? Can you imagine how things would have turned out had we actually hit it off? What kind of wacky, nightmare stories would I have to share?
Remember folks, sometime things going south is the best thing to happen to you.