Ready, Set, Network!

By: JIE JENNY ZOU | Published: September 23, 2012

By Jie Jenny Zou

I finally got around to printing a new set of business cards—spurred in part by an upcoming journalism conference later this month and the fact that my sources are actually beginning to ask me for my contact info (SCORE!).

To be completely honest, I was never quite the ‘networker’ and business cards have always provided me with a sense of comfort and purpose during potentially awkward encounters.

If all else fails, chuck the card at prospective employer/source, I always think to myself. Thankfully, I’ve never had to go that route but it’s nice to know there’s a safety net—even a badly constructed one.

As someone who enjoys talking to strangers for a living, I’ve always wondered why I slip into awkward territory so quickly when it’s under the guise of networking. I think a part of it has to do with the fact that it’s a different kind of conversation where I become keenly aware that I am the one being primarily questioned. It’s also a different kind of pressure where you feel the need to be everything to someone all at once.

Over the years I feel like I’ve gotten better at making networking more akin to normal conversations by asking more questions myself and downplaying the objective of having to ‘sell myself’ at every opportunity that presents itself.

In the meantime, I have a week to improve on my handshake.