by Jennifer Prestigiacomo

Networking happy hours are not my favorite place to be. In fact, I’d rather go to the dentist than go to a networking event. I feel like I have to put on this alternate business professional version of myself complete with plastered-on smile, muster up all my small talk and power through the evening. Even with all this emotional baggage, I continue going to networking events because at one of my first networking happy hours, I met my best friend.

I’d recently moved to New York City from Austin right after college to pursue my dream of writing for a magazine. I moved into a small apartment in Harlem with a friend of a friend, got two retail jobs to pay for it and started pounding the pavement looking for an editorial job. There was a local magazine networking group I stumbled upon, and so I signed up for my first networking happy hour.

I got to the bar early and immediately started to sweat in my business casual attire. I tried out some topics of conversation on a few people and nursed my beer. Then I stumbled upon a woman my age named Lindsey who seemed nice and didn’t mind talking to me for longer than the prescribed three-minute introduction: what’s your name, what do you do now, what do you want to do in the future. Lindsey was working as an assistant at a boutique book publisher, but I could tell she would end up writing her own book in the future (take a look here).

Lindsey and I talked all evening and then traded phone numbers. We quickly fell into a friendship that has lasted almost 15 years. Lindsey has helped me through personal and professional ups and downs, and she continues to inspire me to be strive for more in my career.

And so that’s why I continue to go to Careers Over Cocktails and Careers Over Coffee North. I continue to mentally psych myself up and put on a statement piece of jewelry to spark conversations. I would be really surprised if I met another best friend at my next networking event, but I know if I go, I will be in the company of amazing allies on my continuing career journey.