I won't try to pretend I'm an excellent networker. In fact, I'm pretty piss poor at the whole thing. I hate being used for my connections, it feels slimy. So when I go out of my way to reach out to others for that... I feel even slimier.
But occasionally I try to meet new people with common career interests and see if we can mush our connections up into one giant awesome gooey ball.
A few years ago I had been introduced to a female comic who, as me, was attempting to advance their comedic career. She was close to my age, pretty, single, and best off funny. A funny 6 is automatically an 8. I'm not saying she was a 6, I'm just giving math comparisons. Over the next year or so we remained Facebook friends. Occasionally we'd comment on each other's status updates. I was FB invited to events (which I never attended) and I reached out one time asking her to audition for my short film.
Which she graciously declined.
After a while I sent her an email proclaiming that with our interests, our collection of common friends, and due to us residing in the LA area, we should meet up for a coffee and talk shop. In most part I was looking for funny people to add to my comedy group. She was pretty perfect for that.
She quickly responded with a "Yes" and added that it should be switched to wine. Claiming people don't talk over coffee. Who is going to turn down wine? I'm in. She gave a location, a time, and I was in.
At the time I was "mostly" single. I had just started dating a very nice girl whose place in my life was still TBD. But I definitely wasn't looking to date anyone else. So the fact that I was attracted to my soon-to-be network buddy didn't skew my agenda, other than I was sure not to wear a hat. Inappropriate t-shirt.
I arrived 20 minutes early to discover that our meeting location was an Italian restaurant. And not a cheap one. The bar was small, so I put my name on the list and waited for a table. I sat down... waited.
A few minutes after our designated time she arrived. She looked beautiful, but that could just be an everyday fluke. I mean, I looked amazing... and it was just a Thursdays. We waited a few minutes for a table... sat down and the meeting began.
We talked about each other, our connections, our dreams. I expressed my goals and ideas and how she could be a part of them. She seemed excited. What a great start to the meeting.
During this time we shared a bottle of wine. Not a cheap one at that. Once it was finished, she asked for another... and menus.
Oh... She's hungry?
After a bit she asked what I was eating. I didn't want to be rude. I ordered food and kept talking about "hobby-work".
The conversation then detoured into personal life. My past marriages, my kids, exes, heartache, desires.
I learned she had never been married, no children and most-likely never in love. But looking.
She stopped me mid-conversation to tell me how handsome she found me.
I stumbled a bit but continued my best to talk shop. I even went as far as reading her part of one of my scripts from my phone. No laughter.
I'm losing her.
I'm now figuring out that as she ate her $35 chicken parmesan that my career is not as interesting as I had hoped. My goals are boring and I'm running out of pitches for the next best thing.
She asks "what's next?"
I told her I didn't know. Things just work out.
The check came. We both looked.
And by looked I mean I looked at the check while she looked at the wall. I know that look. That look means "I'm not paying this check"
I paid the $150 plus bill and we walk out together. I learned this location was near her house and she had walked there. I asked if she would like me to walk her back to her house. She declined. I walked to my car feeling a little confused about my $150 meetup and how exactly I was going to use what happened to advance my career. I mean, other than writing about it 3 years later.
The next day I remembered that I had discussed a few comedy sketches which I wanted her to read. I emailed her and she said she'd be happy to look them over. I wasn't near my laptop so I had to wait a bit to send them. Before I could I get an email I didn't expect.
I got an "I like you... but" email. I received an email claiming I was a nice guy but now what she was looking for in a guy. I was too 'business".
I was too business? Umm, that WAS business.
HOLY SHIT I WAS ON A DATE!!!
I realized at that point, the whole night I was on a date and I was all biznezz in her face. I never put on my date face. I didn't use my clever lines, my winning smile, I wasn't even wearing my date pants.
I was officially a shitty date. I was so shitty she didn't even want to try again.
I licked my wounds, I told her thanks for her time, I felt like an ass.
I wasn't sure if telling her I didn't know it was a date made me look more pathetic than just being the guy who only talked about work.
Anyhow, we continued to stay in touch. Occasional emails. Occasional FB comments. Eventually even Instragram friends.
I'll always be the guy who she went on a crappy date with.
And she'll always be the girl which I didn't know I was on the date.