We’ve all been in that situation where we just don’t want to do something. It’s like we’re pulling teeth and dragging ourselves through the motions.

BUT… if we can just get through the initial activation energy and force ourselves to merely show up, we’ve already done 90% of the work… and we’ve inevitably done ourselves a huge favor.

To demonstrate this point, let’s say there’s a networking event…

It’ll be a few speakers who give short presentations, followed by a cocktail reception. But, you don’t want to go because you’re tired or busy or some other reason.

You have two options: 1) Go to the event anyways, or 2) Go home.

Option #1 Possible Outcomes:

A) You could attend the event, sit quietly, keep to yourself the entire time, and not interact with anyone during the reception.

Contrary to popular belief, this is actually a success! Here’s why:

Despite your attempts to be Mr. Mopey Pants in the back of the room, by simply listening to the presentations, you’ll probably get an idea or a small inspiration that you wouldn’t otherwise have thought about – maybe your interest is piqued by something the speaker says, and later you go home and Google more about that speaker, his/her company, or that line of work.

Additionally, the speakers will most likely put their email addresses on a slide in their presentations… Without even speaking to them, you have their contact info! All you’d need to do later is write an email, mention that you were at the event, and highlight something you found interesting in their talk.

Alternatively, maybe you are so checked out that you don’t listen to anything during the presentations, nor do you even pay enough attention to notice the slides. You probably still got a pamphlet or an info card/handout when you walked into the event. Later, when you’re in a better and more energetic mood, you can read about the event, the speakers (maybe the pamphlet includes a bio about them or their companies), and decide to do a little more Googling then. You may not be able to get in touch with the speakers via email (if it’s not listed in the program book), but you will have at least looked into a new career avenue that you would have completely missed otherwise.

Thus, even if you don’t speak to anyone, don’t participate in the reception, and your presence is otherwise unnoticed, simply being there gives you exponentially more resources to use later during your career search.

B) You could attend the event and wait for someone else to make the first move.

Although we advise students and postdocs to take the more proactive role, it’s also possible that someone approaches YOU at a networking event.

Even if you don’t attempt to speak to someone else, your mere presence at this event could encourage someone to go over and talk to you, in which case, you’re networking without really trying. J  Sometimes you really don’t have to do anything to start a conversation except BE THERE. These types of chance interactions can only occur IF you are present, highlighting that 90% of the effort here is just showing up.

And who knows where those discussions might lead – just be sure to get some contact information before the conversation is over!

C) You could attend the event and proactively approach people you’d like to speak with.

This could involve friends of yours who happen to be at the same event or individuals whom you haven’t met yet. Either way, this can lead to networking success.

Perhaps, in your tired state of being, you resolve to mingle with friends because you just don’t have the energy to put on your networking gameface and approach the speakers. That’s Ok, because maybe your friends aren’t nearly as tired as you are and they want to approach the speaker – simply tag along and, aside from introducing yourself, let your friend(s) do all the talking. This is a win-win situation for you because you still get to meet the speaker (and reference the conversation later in your follow-up email), but it requires a lot less mental energy from you. If this type of scenario falls into your lap, always take it! ALWAYS!

Alternatively, despite your tired state, you’re there, so you convince yourself that you might as well go introduce yourself and try to have a meaningful conversation with the speakers – Great! This is obviously a networking success. J  If you’re debating about going this route, just recognize that the will power necessary to muster up the strength/courage to talk to someone is less daunting and much less overwhelming than the will power necessary to force yourself to get to the event in the first place when you’re overtired and just want to go home. So, if you’re already there, you’ve already done the hard part (congrats!). The rest is much easier. 🙂

Option #2 Possible Outcomes:

A) (and notice that there is no B here) You go home, go to bed, never get interested in something you saw or heard, never Google it later (which could’ve led to a entirely new set of career exploration adventures), never bump into friends who might do all the work for you, never have the opportunity to speak to the presenters or the company representatives, never receive an information packet, etc.

It’s that simple. There is only one outcome for this option… It gives you nothing and gets you nowhere.

Sure, it’s much easier to give up and go home, especially when you’re tired, but if you use that excuse once, you’re more likely to use it again… and again… and again and again. It’s a viscous cycle, and if it continues and you’re never able to snap out of this habit, you will be hard-pressed to find assistance and connections when it comes time to apply for jobs. And as we’ve discussed before, applying to online job postings is mostly fruitless without referrals or connections.


What these two different options highlight is that…

90% of everything is just showing up.

You might be tired, you might be frustrated… whatever it is that is urging you to go home, do your best to fight that urge because the majority of the battle is over once you arrive at the event. The rest will be a lot easier, require less energy, and even if you can’t be proactive, things might just fall into place for you… but ONLY if you show up.


** The next time you’re faced with a choice to go or not to go to an event, GO! And share your experience with us! Let us know what happened as a result! **

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