Don’t Confuse Networking Events and Singles Events

Why you shouldn’t be thinking about hooking up when you’re making business contacts

Eunice Brownlee


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

When you spend such a large portion of your life at work and in a professional setting, it seems that if you’re single and looking, meeting a romantic partner during business hours is inevitable. While I’m a firm believer in organic connections, business settings are not the place to foster those connections. At least, not right out of the gate.

As networking meetings have shifted from early coffee to evening happy hours, the overall tone of these events has changed dramatically. They have gotten more casual and social, and as a result, a little more friendly. We don’t just present ourselves with our professional biography, we let our hair down a little bit and show our human side as well.

We use the opportunity to connect and find common ground with people, but what I’ve started to see more recently is that happy hour events feel more like hitting the bar on a Saturday night. Everyone is looking to connect—but they are interested in making the wrong kind of connection, and a line inevitably ends up getting crossed.

Recently, I attended a closing night party for an annual weeklong event that happens in Denver. We had spent the week attending sessions and learning more about the industries we are currently in (or maybe more about industries we want to be in) and we gathered at the end to celebrate.

As all of us waited in line to redeem our free cocktails at the bar, we began to commiserate with each other about how long it was taking and whether or not the wait would be worth it. We problem solved as a team. You three go wait in line for food, we’ll hang back and wait for drinks here. Divide and conquer.

I got to chatting with a nice young man who had recently relocated and had attended the event to make connections and find a job. He tagged along with our group and joined in the conversations. As the night wore on and the drinks went down, his demeanor changed from professional to more friendly.

And then, it got a little too friendly.

As I was sitting next to him in conversation with someone else, he ran a hand up my leg…