A debut guide to networking targets readers who hate the practice.
Thanks to her early years accompanying her professionally itinerant father, Patterson came to think of herself as the “Professional New Girl” who was always dealing with a fresh environment where she knew nobody. She’d gone from New Jersey to the Dallas suburbs, “where old money mingled with new and my classmates popped the collars on their Ralph Lauren Polos and cuffed the hems of their madras plaid Bermuda shorts before they left for the country club.” The years of needing to make new ties and friends shaped her, she later realized, into “a natural connector,” somebody who was still “painfully, tragically uncomfortable walking into a room full of strangers” but who could nonetheless do it and triumph. In the course of her chatty and smoothly involving book, she lays out a series of pithy observations and tips for people in the business world who face the prospect of networking with less confidence than a “Professional New Girl.” In a series of easily flowing chapters, she focuses on some of the ways people navigate networking events incorrectly or poorly. Effective networking is about far more than shaking hands and passing out business cards, she asserts: It’s about building relationships based on genuine respect and affection. “It’s hard to connect with people when you’re unhappy, and it’s damn near impossible to connect with people when you don’t like and respect them,” she writes. “Because (ahem!) we do business with people we know, like, and trust.” Throughout the personable guide, Patterson adopts a tone of jocular chiding combined with helpful pragmatism (sections are anchored with a series of “Prompts and Activities” to help readers codify her valuable suggestions). Readers who’ve dreaded networking or been frustrated by failures will no doubt discover some of their errors pointedly probed here, which may be uncomfortable. But they will also find an enormous amount of worthy advice in these pages.
A fun and demystifying manual that seeks to humanize networking.