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Thread: Networking/conversations

  1. #1

    Networking/conversations

    I'd like to get people's thoughts on how they approach networking opportunities. I don't know how many other people feel this way, but I know that I personally get a bit overwhelmed when I enter a conference or meeting with many other higher level planners/politicians/lawyers, etc. My first inclination is to not say anything to anyone out of a personal fear of sounding like an idiot. Maybe other people feel this way, and maybe they don't, but I'm hoping to get feedback from people in the industry about how you approach this type of setting. What are you likely to talk about? How do you go about introducing yourself to someone who is important in the community (i.e. how to you avoid standing in a corner and not talk to anyone, and how to open a question without sounding uneducated). Simply put, what has worked for you in terms of meeting new people, and engaging somone who you think "has more important things to do" than talk to you?

  2. #2
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I can understand why you might find an event like a planning conference socially daunting. If it's any consolation, many of us feel akward at these types of events. Planners, on the whole, tend to be somewhat introverted personality types, which really doesn't help much either. I guess it comes down to being a question of confidence - you've heard the saying before 'better to say nothing and be thought a fool than open one's mouth and remove all doubt'; this is a great strategy if one's only goal is to remain 'safe', but then if one never opens their mouth they never network either. If one, however, projects confidence they aren't concerned with sounding foolish or uneducated it's probably best to be forthright and simply approach people with a "Hi, I'm Billy Bob and I'm a planning student. I see from the nametag you're called Jebidiah and work for the City of Schenectady. What do you do and how do you like working there?"

    Asking people what they do is usually a good idea - after all, who doesn't like to talk about themselves? Using the aforementioned approach you've admitted up front that you dont claim to know jack and therefore don't have to make any effort trying to sound knowlegeable and have also put the other person at ease because now they have the opportunity to look good and talk about themselves.

    We don't bite. Really. If you want to know what we're like on a personal level, check out the Friday Afternoon Club. There you will find planners, students, and non-planners interacting on general topics. Should be a good confidence builder.

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