Have you ever made a mistake while networking and thought, “wow…did I just blow that?!” Me too! However, I learned a valuable lesson about being myself, and making light of a situation that could have gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Back when I was working as a Marketing Specialist in corporate Calgary, I was at a networking event where lunch was served…awkwardly while standing at tiny tables where you had to mix and mingle balancing purses, notebooks, forks, knives and all that jazz.
This particular lunch menu focused heavily on kabobs, as most people would be inclined to pick up the stick and simply munch the meat off. Not me – no sir! From the moment I got my braces in grade 7, I’ve become someone who cuts up my food in public venues; no gnawing allowed. It was imperative I found a spot at one of the few standing tables so I could put my plate down and cut the chicken off my kabob.
I thought luck was with me that day as I found a spot beside a lovely lady from another company. As I was working my chicken off my kabob, we exchange pleasantries, talking about the event we were at, where each other worked, and so forth. All of a sudden, I saw a piece of chicken fly off my kabob stick and land on this lady’s plate. We both stopped for a moment, not sure how to react.
I haltingly laughed out, “Sorry, but the chicken is so good. I thought you might like to try it!” She had a little chortle and we continued on our conversation (although I had stopped eating the chicken from that point on). At the end of the conversation she looked at me and pointedly asked, “Would you be interested in leaving you current job? We’re looking to hiring a good Marketing Specialist and I think you’d be a good fit with our team.”
A moment that had disaster written all over it, ended up being laughed off and turned into a potential job offer!
The biggest lesson was that just because I messed up, I apologized, showed my personality and moved on. That was all I could do, other than offer the woman chicken.
After all, networking is about building relationships and the only way you can do that is if you show WHO you are and how you react in awkward situations.
Key Lessons for Networking Lunches:
- Breath; everyone there is in the same boat when it comes to small chit chat,
- Laugh at yourself; it’s endearing, people can relate to you better, and it makes situations a wee less awkward, and
- Learn to chew; If you’re going to have a kabob, for goodness sake, chew the meat off!