Can’t get up the guts to call someone up and network? Mark Stelzner from writes a witty and spot-on post about the lessons we can all learn from our middle school dance. He asks the reader to picture back when we were at our Middle School dances, and some kids sat on the bleachers while others got up the courage to be the first to dance. Stelzner says that the kids on the bleachers may have laughed, but secretly they were jealous of the dancing kids’ audacity. Well the same applies to networking. Here are four networking tips, designed like a middle school dance:

  1. Find out who is going to be there — See ahead of time who you should talk to, which should include people other than “the cool kids.”
  2. Research them — Google the guests’ names; find them on Twitter; figure out what groups they belong to. See what interests you have in common with the other guests before you go.
  3. Plan interesting conversations — Maintaining a conversation isn’t easy for most people, so plan ahead. Stelzner suggests choosing a few news stories that you can discuss at an event. Try to pick topics that will give you surprising answers. “People love to talk about themselves.”
  4. Be natural — Try to get comfortable at the event, and keep conversations casual. DO NOT ask someone to help you get a job… you have to build up a relationship first (and it will take more than one night).