Trick Or Treat Networking

Hey everyone,

Melissa Varischetti here, owner and founder at

It’s October, and those of you who know me know that this is my all-time favorite month of the year. Between my favorite holiday (Halloween) and the colder weather, beautiful leaves, and anticipation of more holidays to come, October is always a happy time of year for me. 

I found myself thinking about trick or treating this week, and how much fun it is to get a big group together and go around collecting candy with your friends. And now this isn’t even just for kids any more – parents get into the Halloween spirit too and plan Halloween parties around their kids spooky shenanigans. 

Then that got me thinking, is there a way we can think about trick or treating in the workplace? Well, not exactly trick or treating – we’re talking about NETWORKING, that ubiquitous word that everyone says but nobody can exactly define. 

Let’s start by defining networking. 

A network just means a group of people (or animals or machines) linked together for a common purpose – think about a network of computers in an office that are all hard-wired to a common server. 

The unique component in workplace (i.e. human) networking is that the people in the network can choose whether or not they want to be in the network, and usually they can also leave said network at any time. As opposed to a computer network, where the computer has no agency in whether or not it is connected to the network. 

So, going back to our definition, workplace networking just means finding those groups that are most important to you (whether personally or professionally), and then subsequently becoming part of those groups. Whether walking down the hall, sitting a different table at lunch, or reaching out over Slack or email, there are many ways to meet new folks and then proceed to make a good first impression. 

Why is this like trick or treating? So glad you asked!

When you get a group together for trick or treating, you don’t just run around to every house within 5 miles of your neighborhood and indiscriminately ask for candy. You strategize. You ask other kids whose houses are the best and which ones are better to avoid. You search for well-lit streets with nice sidewalks so everyone stays safe. And you may even get a group together from multiple neighborhoods to maximize your candy-collecting efficiency. 

But the thing about trick or treating is that it’s also a little scary. Maybe it’s your first time in a new neighborhood, or you’re meeting the rest of your crew for the first time on Halloween night. Perhaps you’ve got a little sibling or cousin to keep an eye on, or maybe you’re worried if it’ll get too cold for your Elsa dress. 

In a similar manner, networking can be a little scary, and also requires some strategization. 

Every time you take the first step in a relationship and reach out to form a connection, it can be scary. You never know how your entree will be received, and sometimes there are additional hurdles involved beyond finding contact information (for example, if you need to travel to a different office to make a connection). Plus, if you are networking for the purpose of getting a different job, you also have to determine if you do, in fact, want that job as you get to know more about it. 

Additionally, even in a small company, it’s not necessarily possible to walk up and introduce yourself to every single employee. Between different shifts, locations, and a combination of remote and in-person work, you might work with someone for weeks on end but never actually see them in-person at your office. Similarly, you need to make sure your networking is goals-based. While it doesn’t have to be for the purposes of career advancement, you should approach every networking conversation knowing why you’re reaching out and making a connection with someone else. Sometimes, depending on the scenario, you may even make the other party aware of your goal. 

For example, let’s say you’re a mid-level manager at a retail chain and you really want to transition to a marketing role at your corporate headquarters. You do some research using the company directory as well as LinkedIn, and then send an email to the head of the marketing department, letting her know who you are, and that you’re reaching out as a networking opportunity to learn more about the role as it is something you think you would be interested in. 

I know sending that email might get your heart pounding a little – after all, what if it comes across as too in-your-face, or it looks like you’re unhappy with your current position and your manager has to talk to you? 

But that’s the amazing thing about networking – for the most part, folks are open to networking and helping each other make connections and generally make the world a better place. 

That’s where the fun part comes in – as you build your network and start getting more comfortable taking those first steps, you’ll find benefits not just to your professional career, but even in your personal life as well. 

That’s about all I’ve got for this month – now I have to get back to buying tons of candy for all the trick-or-treaters – I mean networkers – that will be on my front porch in a few weeks. 

And as always, if you have any questions about networking, or just want some career or HR advice, drop me a line at [email protected] or comment on this post below or on any of our social media accounts. 

Until next time,