"Outside-of-Work" Social Networking

A blog post by Beth Kawasaki, ReBoot Accel co-founder.

I recently read an article titled “Sheryl Sandberg Just Nailed a Subtle Way Men Hold Women’s Careers Back.” In it, she highlights the importance of outside-of-work social events to one’s networking and career success; and the challenges one’s gender identity can present in accessing invitations to them.

As we head into the New Year, ReBoot Accel wants to maximize your networking and personal rebranding success, and joy, at upcoming outside-of-work social events. Here are five ideas to help you to prepare well for your upcoming friends, family, fundraising, faith, and/or school get-togethers.

#1 Reflect on the upcoming event. Who will be attending this event? What are they most interested in? How do you know, or can you begin to learn about them? Is there some research you can do on LinkedIn to increase your social IQ and confidence? What are a couple questions you’d genuinely like to ask these people? Having these questions identified beforehand can help you connect more easily and enthusiastically.

The most successful networking is that which builds a human relationship in a mutually rewarding way. Being prepared can make this more natural when the networking nerves set in. – Beth Kawasaki

Diane Flynn, ReBoot Accel CEO, recently attended an event where she would know few. She spent part of her flight writing out the five issues she wanted to get guidance on from the people she might meet. These thoughtful context-appropriate questions helped Diane enjoy and guide the conversations she entered into; and increased the potential for fruitful post-event follow-up.

#2 Reassess your personal brand. How do attendees know and perceive you? This is an important question and opportunity for those in career reentry and transition.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon has described our personal brand as “what people say about you when you leave the room.”

How would these folks describe you? Is this outdated? Incomplete? How can you help them get up to speed regarding what you are doing now and where you are going next?

#3 Refurb your 30-second story. With your event and brand audits in mind, what is one piece of career reentry or transition news that you would like to share with this particular audience, in this setting? This will differ by the event, and be refined by the information you gather through listening to people; yet having this message articulated and rehearsed ahead of time will help you weave it into your responses in a more relaxed manner.

#4 Refresh your personal presentation. Nothing signals “something’s new,” like an external change in one’s personal presence.

I once arrived at a school committee meeting with my hair blown out, apparently a rare occurrence. This caused such a flurry of curiosity that I had a few minutes to pitch my new business to a rapt on-target audience. – Beth Kawasaki

And incented me to up my game on a more frequent basis! What update are you ready for?

#5 Arrive early to plan and pay it forward. This comes from Nathan Gold, the Demo Coach, who often arrives early at events to get a sense of the space and get his own plan in place. If a last-minute frenzy is unfolding, Nathan offers set-up assistance to the hosting committee.

This has led to grateful introductions to and quiet behind the scenes conversations with luminaries specially engaged for the event. Planning and paying it forward pays off in many a setting. – Nathan Gold

However, if your sense is that your host would appreciate a timely arrival, pay attention to that too. Context can be everything.

Finally. Pause, breathe, visualize success, and anticipate the fun ahead. You’re bringing your best you and that’s what every situation benefits from.



Diane Flynn