Networking Advice: Where to Start

Networking. It’s such a dirty word. And with good reason—a lot of people are doing it the wrong way! I first learned how networking isn’t done during my first day in a Capitol Hill office when an oil lobbyist shook my hand and slid his business card into my palm, saying, “Hi there, Peter! Mind if I call you Pete?” My first thought was “Wow, apparently some stereotypes do exist for a reason.” And my second one was, “Actually, I do mind. I bet this guy thinks he’s a really smooth networker.” That isn’t what I’d call networking; it’s what I would call “not-working.” If you’re still reading after the pun, allow me to give you a number of networking tips that I hope you will find useful.

First things first. If you want to network, you have to show up and you need to know where to show up! Just like your muscles won’t get exercise if you don’t hit the gym, your networking isn’t going to develop if you’re not regularly attending events. If you’re not consistently attending receptions, you’re missing out.

When I relocated to DC years ago, I barely knew anyone, but the nice thing about DC is that almost everyone is from somewhere else, so it’s literally the easiest place in the country to meet people and make new friends. DC attracts all types of people, but for people interested in the conservative/libertarian movement like the readers of this blog, there are a ton of places for you to go to network. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find here in the DC-area. In fact, there’s pretty much something going on every night of the week.

All of these organizations regularly have speaker events with receptions (frequently no charge) before or after their programs:
American Enterprise Institute
America’s Future Foundation
Atlas Network
Conservatism on Tap (Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s DC Alumni Chapter)
Cato Institute
Conservative Women’s luncheon sponsored by Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute at The Heritage Foundation
Federalist Society (monthly DC Lawyers luncheon, Young Lawyers Chapter cocktail receptions, Practice Group events at the National Press Club, Capitol Hill Chapter luncheons and evening receptions)
Heritage Foundation
It’s First Friday monthly happy hours
Hudson Institute
Leadership Institute (monthly Wednesday wake-up club breakfasts, weekend training schools and monthly happy hours)
Tocqueville Forum
Young Republicans (DC, Arlington/Fairfax, etc.)
Banquets and national conferences like CPAC, ,Values Voters, Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the Dream Summit, Federalist Society’s annual National Lawyers Convention, Faith & Freedom Conference, Right Online, etc.

Also, feel free to join my email list. Email me at Peter.Redpath@gmail.com and I’ll happily add you to a list I send out about once a week which lists a fairly inclusive listing of events around town.

The nice thing about attending these events, particularly in the conservative/libertarian movement is that if you show up to enough events over a short period of time and are half-way social, you can make a lot of new friends. The key is to consistently show up to events over a short period of time. Think about how easily you’ve forgotten another’s name and face before. Typically it’s not for a lack of trying. It’s because it’s actually hard to remember all those names and faces, especially if there’s been a passage of time! It’s much easier for you to be memorable when you’re a regular. Think about your neighborhood bar. Even the bartender knows the dud at the bar’s name, and that’s simply because he’s a regular. Become a regular! And don’t be a dud!

More on that in a future post…

Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This blog is the first in a series, based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.

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