Rodeo Report, part 3: N(o)tworking

So much of life revolves around the relationships we build, few careers are a better example than investment banking. Whether its M&A or S&T it sure helps to know a BSD who can pass along your resume or help you out somehow.

But how to utilize these brushes with power to your best advantage? Better yet, how not to complete ruin your opportunity of ever building an effective relationship with this person?

This past weekend at the Energy Rodeo, one presenter stood out with regard to these thoughts. Though his presentation was impressive, that was not it. There were quite a few sharp people, bringing a variety of perspectives to various panels.

This guy, however, had his own entourage following him from the cafeteria and through the hallways. Hanging on his every last word, as if his story about Starbuck's actually meant:
I am hiring you all right now and giving you a seven-figure bonus.

So without further ado, here is today's mini networking guide. This is an advanced model to be used when confronted with an influential man or woman, who is used to being looked to for help, advice, guidance and leadership.

It is a guide of what not do, which should shed the light on what to do.

How NOT To Ride the BSD:

1) Don't Fall in Love

After the presentation was over, I gave this guy a slap on the gut and told him that he managed to morph from a regular guy into the hot chick at the bar. He knowingly laughed, though a few bystanders did not. Nobody takes the hot chick home guys, not when there's a line of suitors groveling at her feet. On the same token, his business card becomes pretty worthless in your hands when you're one of the horde.

2) Don't Sell at a Sampling
While our favorite character was being hounded by the fans, a few went further than others. Asking for a job, asking if there's room on a particular desk, asking just about anything direct in relation to a job, (especially as part of a large group) will get you remembered. As an idiot. Don't do it. Autographs are for trade shows, keep your distance.

3) Don't Be a Giggly Girl
This is a gender neutral comment. It applies even if you are in fact, a giggly girl. Yes, this man is in a position you would someday like to occupy. Yes, he has knowledge of and power in a field you want to work in. Yes, I get it. Yes, he has something you want. The problem?

He knows this, as well.

This is precisely why laughing at everything he says. Hanging on his every breath and being so obvious about it, has the value add of swallowing a bullet.
He knows that he is not that funny and is ultimately not looking for a squire or a hype man to tell him how great he is. Don't be the giggly girl if you want to be looked at as a business person. Remain his equal, because you already are.

4) Don't Ignore, Listen to What is Being Told

So there I sat and laughed under my breath. For about 45 minutes I listened without much interest, but hearing every word and rolling my eyes. I couldn't believe how many utter fools were ruining a beautiful opportunity. There was our guy, telling them precisely what he looked for in a candidate and there they were, not displaying a drop in the bucket of what he was looking for.

HINT: The next time you are at a financial industry related networking event and a presenter tells you he is looking for: a strong interest in markets...

do not spend five minutes talking about your leadership experience in your local quilting society! Don't say you really love to travel! Don't talk about food!

Maybe he went to a football game last year, maybe he played football in college, but being a star quarterback on your junior high school team is not what will get the ball handed off to you at this point.

Focus on what he told you, not what you think he wants to hear.

5) Don't Follow the Pack

Since there was lots of action, I cannot say for sure if someone actually did the smart thing.
But kudos to anyone that did and open your ears to anyone that didn't.

Financial markets are a great example of how the herd mentality can fuck things up, not just for the crowd but for the world outside it. Yes, you can make money when markets move...but...if everyone jumps on a given bandwagon at once...the tide will change.

When there is 20 people huddled around one guy, hanging on his every word... NO you do not want to meet him, right then and there. You are just making yourself another face in the crowd not worth remembering.

Wait until there is room to breathe. Wait until the closing seconds of the event to take you shot at glory. A novel move may be to get business cards printed if you don't have your own.

Trust me, a business card that reads ambitious student with eyes on the prize will be far less douchy then a complete dining room set worth of ass clown cheesing and greasing palms.

The Bottom Line

The gatekeepers on your path to success are just people. They may carry impressive titles and hold important roles, but they bleed like the rest of us. There is no reason to stress them out or stress out over them. When going into any networking situation or a big event like the Energy Rodeo, keep this in mind.

More importantly, keep the following firmly at the front and center of your brain:

Your success in this industry or any other, hinges on your ability to get things done.

Standing around, waiting to talk to people gets nothing accomplished. No matter who they may be.

That's enough on the subject from me.

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