By Larry Chiang (CEO, Duck9 & Stanford University EIR) Parties have patterns.
Like many women, I get invited to a lot of uber cool things last minute. Of course, I had to toil years in the basement suite, kiss parent company ass, write 300 blog posts at BusinessWeek, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, GigaOm, Xconomy and pen a NY Times bestseller to get half the invites all y'all get...
So when I get invited, I don't say no.
I don't say no because I had to work so hard to get invited. You flippantly say no and miss these networking opportunities because you're not 100% comfortable sometimes. Parties have value because they get us in front of people. The goal of this blog post is to expose patterns of parties to get you a better scouting report. It also is meant to get us to do the thing that we are sometimes uncomfortable doing -- networking with strangers in strange places.
Well, here is a confession. I'm not 100% comfortable all the time either.
But I have experience attending events and see patterns.
Here are the different parties. These scenarios are meant to help you get more comfortable, understand what to wear, forecast what to expect, and help you network better. It also helps you avoid having to text message a dozen questions, making the person who invited you regret ever inviting you. This gets you better deal flow (err invitation flow). And remember, if we are getting invited, we are near top-of-mind.
## text message #1 ## "Come to Bentley Reserve. It's good!"
Yup, it's a tech after-party. Or maybe a fundraiser like Project by Project. Or maybe a product launch like Peanut Labs.
My strategy for "working" this event is to sidle into five different group conversations. I add value by listening. There are silly people who want to be motivational speakers. I want to be a motivational listener.
My goal is to leave with two new best friends. The meaning of best friend is person who wants to follow up with me to hang out with me. It's a great event if you can get one best friend.
## text message #2 ## "I'm stopping by 5A5 for a work thing. Meet up?!"
There is a high likelihood that it is just work related drinks with semi work related talk in a loosely organized smattering of people. No one really knows anyone super well no matter how many air kisses are blown or bear hugs exchanged.
Work at the networking knowing that you're there to meet a friend-of-a-friend that might end up as a friend.
## text message #3 ## "We are having a work dinner. You should swing by."
TRANSLATION: we are at the private dining room of Kokkari. You should go!!
My strategy for crashing into a work dinner where I am invited is to go and find a role. I know it seems like an oxymoron, but it is not. Even when women are invited, they feel like they're crashing and do not belong. It has to do with the imposter syndrome.
Here is how I solve the imposter syndrome in my own way: I crash and network at parties I am not invited into. It's in my arsenal of entrepreneur tools I break down into my video about nine guacamole recipes.
## text message #4 ## "We are crashing ad-tech conference. Wanna join?
This pattern is the loose "work association mixer". I view these as practice mixers. It is not that tough to spend 30 to 60 minutes at one of these things. Doing 90 minutes of this type of work per week does wonders for our ability to build our rolodex.
## text message #5 ## "Plus One for a Cocktail?"
Being a Plus One is an art. There is nothing that will separate you from all other people on this planet than being a good plus one.
Say yes to this text message and ace it. Keep in mind --
- NO ONE there feels like they really belong.
- Have your micro pitch ready. "I am Angie Chang's plus one." But even if I didn't know that VIP, I would be crashing!! Party humor as a plus one is critical.
- Seek out the alpha host and thank them. And ask if it's OK to be "Larry Chiang's plus one". The host will always say to you: "Heck, we are happy you're here that even if Larry Chiang ain't here, you'd be welcome!" They are hosts. They are programmed to say this.
- Tweet / Facebook update something positive. It's just good karma.
Now make the most of this holiday party season!
Editor's note: Got a question or answer for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Larry Chiang is CEO of Duck9. He scandalously uses his company's credit card product to lead generate CS major founders by 'selling' a credit card that actually pays CS major undergrads called the "Larry Chiang Duck9ReverseAnnualFee.com" product. His fund is called "Larry Chiang Stanford G51 Fund of Stanford Founders". He teaches ENGR 145 at Stanford as an EIR. Follow him on Twitter at @LarryChiang.