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Schmooze, Whether You Like It or Not

Schmooze, Whether You Like It or Not

By Lindsey Gerdes, Businessweek

First of all, says Penelope Trunk, author of The Brazen Careerist, you do have something to offer: “It is so rewarding for older people to help younger people. All you have to be is the person who’s going to succeed under their tutelage.”

Trunk, herself a former corporate ladder climber who abandoned that world for the independent life of blogging and writing for other nontraditional professionals, adds, “if you don’t let them know what you’re nervous about, what are they doing for you?” She also recommends focusing on developing a deeper relationship with a small group of contacts instead of attempting to connect with the masses.

Others, however, are more wary of this approach. “You give depth by showing them your capacity, your capabilities,” advises a skeptical fortysomething businessman (one of the individuals I polled on the subject).’

Comfort Zone

At the end of the day, perhaps it’s about doing what’s comfortable for you. Or occasionally, what’s uncomfortable. A few years ago when I was a struggling young freelancer, I dragged myself to a networking event—my first ever—that I didn’t want to attend. That evening, I met two impressive, young female staffers.

The source of our connection was perhaps no more than a shared realization that there wasn’t really anybody else there that we felt comfortable with or wanted to talk to. However, that was enough, and we stayed in touch. And some time later, one of them included me on an e-mail about an internship that was opening up.

I applied for the position, and here I am two years later. I’m still hesitant about networking, but glad that, in at least that one instance, I decided to schmooze for schmoozing’s sake alone.

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