Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

How To Network Like a Hottie

After an epic Tahoe trip last weekend I had an interesting opportunity to spend over six hours in a car with three tech entrepreneurs and “What they don’t teach you at Stanford Business School” writer Larry Chiang.  Squeezed five in the car with only fortune cookies to satiate us, we hungrily spoke about what most people would talk about—business and sex. Many times the two are hard to separate, especially at large networking events where you are not sure if someone wants to get into your business or get into your pants.

A female founder mentioned that she tries not to dress up or act too feminine at these events in case the men she speaks with cannot see past her sexuality.  “I want them to see me for business savvy and not get caught up in the rest.”  I agree with her point but the thought of giving up 4 inch heels and lipstick just to pass out business cards makes me want to cry.

Seeing my confliction, Larry immediately referenced his guide, “How to work a conference as a hottie.” Apparently some of us have been going about it all wrong.  This isn’t to say I am proclaiming myself as a “hottie.”  Any woman that walks into a tech conference with functioning appendages is one.  So is any man that has matching socks and doesn’t start quoting Star Trek.

Four Tips to Network as a Hottie:

1. Have a Date.

This means I need to start bringing a fake boyfriend to events so that other men immediately understand that romance is not on the table.  A ‘fake boyfriend’ is not a life size inflatable ken doll, but rather a male accomplice that actually talks smart. Plus Larry says, a good pseudo date boosts your status and protects your personal space.

2. Own the Chemistry.

Larry didn’t mention this on his blog but it is an invaluable piece of advice.  The magic of chemistry between two people cannot be explained nor, as much as you try, be made to go away down some dark hole.  But if you give in to its power, all business deals are lost.  Rather than pretend you are not imagining the person naked as you speak about revenue projections, fess up to the attraction and channel it down a more progressive (or at least long lasting) direction. Larry told us to say something like “Hey, I like the energy we have…perhaps we can use it to work together on xyz…..” Now you both can breath a sigh of relief and focus.

3. Work the Room (i.e. ditch your inflatable date…and everyone else).
Don’t let your hotness be hogged!  You do not want to be stuck talking to the same person for over 15 minutes as there are so many other amazing people to talk to.  This also means that you should try to talk to people for at least 10 minutes and not snub them (even if they DO reference Star Trek).  As I have written before, everyone has amazing value if we are open minded. Larry says—you cannot judge a book by its cover, especially tech books.

4. Don’t Get Wasted.

Larry actually didn’t mention this at all but I unfortunately know from past experience that drinking multiple jäger shots puts me much more in the party girl category than the respectable serial entrepreneur one.  It also makes me trip in my high heels.  To be a good hottie networker, have fun…without trashing yourself.

Hopefully these tips will make it easier for both men and women to network together.  Prioritize deals over hookups.  Of course, after the event is done and the contract signed, let loose a little.  Life is too short to always stay proper.

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