Networking Tips from Someone Who Dreads Networking

By Adam Friedl
Friendly chatter.

Friendly chatter.

ADAM FRIEDL ( is deputy director of the Midtown Community Court in New York City, a demonstration project of the Center for Court Innovation.

“You should network.” It probably ranks somewhere between “build your personal brand” and “start contributing 10 percent of your income to a 401(k) at age 22” among the things career experts tell us, presumably for our own good, that often just result in making us feel bad or inadequate. (There’s also, “Don’t borrow too much money for law school,” but that’s another column.)

But I can’t argue that building a network isn’t important. In thinking about how much I dread networking, I realized that virtually every job I’ve had in the past 15 years has resulted, at least in part, from the intervention of someone I knew—in other words, someone in my network. I hate it when career experts are right.

Here’s the thing: Networking conjures images of awkward speed-dating events and informational interviews, of superficial chitchat and elevator pitches. Those sound like things only reality TV stars would excel at. But that’s making networking way too complicated and intimidating. In fact, let’s not even call it “networking.” Let’s call it “generally being friendly to people.” See how folksy and easy that sounds? So here are three tips for generally being friendly to people:

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