Lines connecting figures representing people.

Linked – How to make networking events less intimidating and awkward

Don’t be a bagel.

But I lost my confidence as soon as I walked into a room full of … bagels.

That’s what networking expert Robbie Samuels calls the tight clusters of people who gather in seemingly impenetrable circles at networking events, who seem to already know each other and don’t want to let newcomers in.

To me, that’s what makes networking so intimidating. But Samuels, author of the book Croissants Versus Bagels: Strategic, Effective and Inclusive Networking at Conferences, says it doesn’t have to be this way. If we all adapted a more croissant-like attitude – that is, a spirit of openness, like the pastry’s shape – he says people would understand that networking is about being generous with our professional knowledge and helping each other succeed in our careers.

I love this. As an introvert, I can’t even begin to put the number of times I walked into an event and saw a bunch of little circles, so I hung on the sidelines, not feeling welcome to join any conversation. Usually, eyeing the entrance for someone else coming in who I already knew and very likely leaving early because it’s all just too much.

Looking at networking, in person, on social media, etc., as being generous with what we know, looking for opportunities to help people in their careers or personal lives, trying to bring people into our sphere who can use the connections?

That’s being a croissant instead of a bagel. I dig the analogy.

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  1. I’m glad you enjoyed my interview with NPR. Thanks for sharing!

    I wrote a book on this topic “Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences” and did a TEDx “Hate networking? Stop bageling and be the croissant!”

    You’ll find them (and bonus content) at and

    I also host a free monthly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hour on the first Friday of each month. LMK if you’d like the Zoom link.


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