Networking events and industry meet-ups are always being recommended to me as the best way to integrate myself into the community I want to be a part of.
Being a shy thing, on top of being introverted, I find the idea of such shindigs terrifying and unappealing. However, I had a moment of feeling brave and was willing to take some risks in the hope of making some new connections. So I decided to journey down to Sassafras, a bar in Hollywood, for an event supposed to help connect those in the baby ranks of the entertainment industry.
As I walked there, straightening my skirt and tucking wisps of hair behind my ears, I tried to amp myself up: “You can do this. Take it step by step, you don’t have to become best buds with everyone in there. Your goal is to talk to one person. You got this. It’s only one person. Once you get into a one-on-one conversation, you’ll be fine. You can handle this.”
I took some deep breaths as the bouncer checked my ID and I stepped inside the dimly lit two-story room.
And in an instant, I was ready to bolt right back out the door.
The place was stuffed to the gills, humming like the drone of an overactive beehive, and people hung together tightly in clusters with little room for new members. Claustrophobic and easily overwhelmed by massive cacophonous sound, I decided the best strategy was to get to the quiet serenity of a hopefully empty bathroom and to make a real strategy from there.
Heart beating with a mixture of fear and embarrassment, I struggled through the crowds taking over the small aisle between the bar and the wall that led to the restrooms. Once there, questions flooded my mind: “How was I supposed to figure out what cluster of people to join? How do I even nudge myself in? Is there a way to do this not awkwardly? Do I get a drink and hope to meet people at the bar that will invite me to follow them back to their cluster? If that doesn’t work, I can’t stand at against the wall by myself with a drink.”
And then I’m back at the start of trying to spark a conversation with a stranger. I quickly realized a major flaw in my plan had been not bringing someone along who could have at least hung back with me while we navigated these high school clique-esque clusters.
Uncomfortable with any other option, I forced myself back through the fissures between shoulders. I would turn my head about in a last ditch effort to maybe catch a friendly eye, but when my gaze was predictably unreturned, I continued my fight through the crowd until I finally reached the refreshingly free air on the outside of the bar.
“Another time,” I said to myself as I walked back to my car that had only been parked for ten to fifteen minutes at the most. “Or maybe never again.”
Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.