Friday, November 18, 2011

Network in 9 Hours!

An easy to follow step-by-step 'How To' tutorial for one of the most important skills necessary in life!  In nine hours and nine steps, you too can leave a third world country with an impressively thick stack of business cards [that aren't your own]!


Step 1:  Attend the 'Etiquette Dinner' offered at your college, hosted by the college president's wife [does that make her the First Lady of the college?] to learn proper dinner and social event manners and factoids, including how to butter your dinner roll, how to gather soup with your spoon, what to do if you need to use the bathroom, in what order to use the utensils, and what a sauce spoon looks like.

Step 2:  Graduate, avoid the real world by traveling it, and realize that you'll never use what you learned at the Etiquette Dinner, or that anyone will notice you eating ice cream with a soup spoon.

Step 3:  Live in a Catechist's Training Center in Gulu, Uganda, and have a deep and lengthy conversation with nuns who live next door about how you don't know what you're going to do with your life, how you're struggling choosing between passion and profession, and how you so desperately don't want to be the old man who's unhappy with his job and looks back and wonders about 'what could have been.'

Step 4:  Attend break dance classes as usual, and meet an Australian photographer, his wife an American manager, his friend a Kenyan traveler, and the Kenyan's friend a Ugandan clothes designer who are in Gulu to photograph women disfigured by the LRA dressed in high fashion [all to show that "they are still beautiful"].

Step 5:  Accept their offer of going back to their hotel for drinks, and ride on the back of a truck next to their their camera equipment and spare tire.  Partake in an hour or so of Waragi [fermented sugar cane juice, or the Ugandan equivalent of gin] and have a merry time explaining why you're traveling.  Take pictures, meet more of their traveling friends [one of whom was supposed to go to NYU for musical theater but instead chose UCSB for Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology], and excuse yourself to attend a farewell dinner party for a Spanish woman - a music therapist - you met through the cultural talent center, also of which you had been taking dance classes.

Step 6:  Before leaving, offer your business card [really just a torn piece of notebook paper with your name and email address on it; explain it's avant garde] to keep in touch, connect through facebook, and update each other on travels.  Expect to receive a business card in return, or at least their avant garde contact information.

Step 7:  Eat ensaladilla rossa [Russian salad] and guacamole with chapati chips and some kind of eggplant quiche dish with a hearty glass [or mug] of Ugandan wine.

Step 8:  Converse with incredibly good looking Spanish speakers [one of whom worked for NBC, and also covered a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the New Year's Ball Drop in Times Square] and a delightfully dry-humored British woman - no, not you, Cassie - who graduated from Harvard ["With the big shiny 'H' under my belt and a British accent, I know I can hold my own in a conversation and at least have the audience's attention."] and is currently trying to empower youth through building a tennis court and an ice cream shop for a nearby high school.  Extra points if she knows someone who graduated from your college and knows how to spell it.

Step 9:  Repeat Step 6.  Particularly with the British woman, who may offer you a place to stay in Kampala before going back to Entebbe Airport in two weeks.

Update | Optional:  Get chased at high speed by a rabid dog on the back of a boda boda at midnight.


And there you have it, the nine steps of networking!  Good luck, young one!  Make me proud and get those business cards.  Remember, practice makes perfect, but since these fleeting encounters and brief meetings happen once in a lifetime, don't mess up too much.  That might cost you a possible connection to someone else in another country, a place to stay, or maybe even a lover...  

Note[s]:  Results may vary.  Actually, results are most likely to vary, especially if you're not filled with wanderlust, willing to go to a stranger's home, desperate to speak with English speakers, or just "so darn cute".  Additionally, just because you network and come home with a heaping stack of business cards does not mean you'll have a job, either right away or in the future.  That requires much  more work and attention I have yet to acquire.  Oh, and Step 1 and Step 2 may actually take more than 9 hours, but I felt as if they were crucial to learning proper networking skills.

[A Reference for the Rest of Us]

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