Thursday, April 5, 2018

How Not to Fail at #BlogPaws (or any) Conference Networking (as Illustrated by Dogs)

For the purposes of this post, "networking" is defined as the specific interaction between two or more people in order to expand one's contacts. Keyword being, expand (also known as the opposite of shrink).

How Not to Fail at Networking caption on t-shirt graphic

Stephen Huneck, the late artist who carved the original design that's printed on my t-shirt in wood, knew a thing or two about networking: It works best when all parties involved are well-behaved and have the exact same, outgoing personality. Whether you're a butt-sniffing dog or a business card-trading human at a conference, if you do it precisely the right way, you can make a conga line and thusly, increase your career potential 10-20-fold!

Except wait. Stephen Huneck was a humorist who specialized in dog-imitating-human parody.

Y'all! Even he knew that NOT EVEN DOGS--short of an unethical cloning experiment--are capable of networking as illustrated on that t-shirt! (Still, it's awfully cute and clever, which is why I purchased it to take with me to BlogPaws in 2014.)


OK, let's get real: Dogs RARELY have opportunity to hang out in packs for the sole purpose of expanding their contact lists. Nevertheless, they do occasionally get together--doggy daycare, family reunions, parks, pet-friendly festivals, training classes, BlogPaws conferences--you get the idea. And when they do, they socialize in a wide variety of ways. I happen to have a few real-life photo examples, featuring my own corgis, Jon Farleigh (red fluffy) and Dewi (blue merle).

Exhibit A.

The makings of an EPIC Cardi Party, is what this is, y'all. But note Jon Farleigh back there at the fence. Dog networking often means letting the more senior dog tell you (by bursting your personal bubble and breathing hot dog breath down your neck) that you might be smoking hot to the ladies and all, but you better show some respect to your elders.

Exhibit B.

Sometimes "piggy-back" rides happen. This is in the event breathing down the neck of a subordinate or "novice" (in order to introduce one's seniority) is inconvenient. (No worries; Dewi was neither harmed, nor embarrassed by Spencer. As I mentioned, this party was EPIC.)

Exhibit C. 

Sometimes dog networking involves dropping in place and staring out into space.

Exhibits D. and E.

So this is an INTER-species exhibit (I don't have any all-dog examples), but the message is the same:
Butt-sniffing has various levels of intensity...which brings me to the next exhibit...

Corgi with pinned on sign that he sniffed Bertie so hard he did a paw-stand

Is there such thing as a butt-sniff TOO vigorous? (Hold that thought.)


Exhibit F. 

Corgis in a pile with networking type captions diagram

I'll pause for a few moments, while you mentally digest the diagram. 1, 2, 3...


For the love of kittens and puppies, don't do the following things that dogs do at BlogPaws (or anywhere). Your career, and possibly your status as a free citizen, depends on it.

  1. Establish oneself as dominant. JUST DON'T. EVER!
  2. Invade another's personal space. At a networking event? NEVER!
    And while I'm talking about being up close and personal..."doggy" breath and B.O. are NO-NO's!
  3. Drop to the floor mid-conversation and stare off into space with a dopey smile on your face. DO YOU WANT TO RUIN THE CONFERENCE FOR US ALL? People will think you've had a stroke and paramedics will be summoned! NO!
  4. Give overly-vigorous (or conversely, weak) butt-sniffs hand-shakes. The keyword to remember is FIRM. Don't break or slap (with a clammy, limp fish) another person's hand. Practice on your own hand, if you need to. Dogs do (practice this, on their own butts).
  5. Dominate the conversation. Remember, the goal is to EXPAND contacts, not shrink them.
  6. Traipse around drunk. OK, so dogs don't get drunk, or even tipsy (cats? another story). But take a lesson from the puppy in the image, shamelessly and obliviously on her back: DO. NOT. GET. DRUNK*. Is that how you want to be remembered? Shoot, do you want to remember with whom you networked?
    * Little talked-up fact: THERE WILL BE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES AT BLOGPAWS. I'm not just talking at the hotel bar, I mean at private, BlogPaws event bar(s). It's a conference perk, of which attendees are counted on to take advantage (you can bet the farmer's @ss I do). At Yappy Hour, Happy Meow-ur, and the Nose-to-Nose Awards reception (and dinner), there will be a bar. Pass holders even get a few FREE DRINK coupons with their registration packets. By all means, USE them (if you want to).
  7. Be a cougar. Or, because I'm an equal opportunity, animal-related slang user...bitch. Really, people. Leave that nonsense at home. (I've never actually witnessed anyone being a "cougar" {not in that sense, anyway} at BlogPaws. Not a lot of opportunity, frankly.)

Related: BlogPaws - the Introvert-Friendly Conference


Please do all of these things at BlogPaws (or most anywhere):
  1. Smile.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Remember they're ALL pet lovers.
  4. Say "hello" to the person standing alone (or sitting/standing next to you...anywhere).
  5. Make eye contact.
  6. Say "thank you."
  7. Listen.
  8. Be gracious and complimentary.
  9. Keep a sense of humor.
  10. Have fun!

Going to BlogPaws? Tell me in comments! What are you looking forward to the most?

Don't have a ticket, but want to go? Register here!

And, of course, follow BlogPaws on social media for the latest tips and updates!


  1. Thanks for the tips and the hilarious post! I will be putting these to good use!

  2. BOL! This is great Elizabeth <3 Sharing!

  3. Haha, love it! This will be our first BlogPaws, and some humor has helped with my killer nerves!

    1. Well, yay that the humor helped (but sorry about the nerves)! It's totally to be expected, though. You'll love it, and I can't wait to meet you and Nola!

  4. We love your sense of humor. Can't wait to see you in Phoenix and drunkily invade your personal space! ;)

    1. Can't wait to see you and your beer goggles, either! ;)

  5. I am looking forward to seeing Jon Farleigh and Dewi! I cannot have a dog, but if I could, my dog(s) would be Corgi.

    1. Jobi! I'm so excited to finally meet you in person! Please promise you still will (meet me in person) even though the corgis can't make it. They'd have to fly in cargo from Virginia and I can't do it. :/ Maybe next year I can drive them.

  6. This was funny. Although as an introvert - even if others are being good about that - this is STILL terrifying.

  7. Maye I should not come I am a chatter box....

  8. Love this post. This is my 8th BlogPaws Conference, all of them with my wife and dog. And I'd never miss. Each one is so uniquely different than the last.

  9. These are great tips and I can't wait to see you in Phoenix.

  10. This is a terrific post with great tips. I LOVE your sense of humor! Fun meeting you yesterday and I look forward to seeing more of you this week! Smiles, Barks & Wagging Tails, Denise & ~Shasta

  11. I am still digesting Exhibit B. Bawhahahahahahaha

    Sadly I think I may have been guilty of Exhibit C at my first conference in Nashville. Though I sat in a chair not on the ground and stared into space so pretty sure no one thought I was having a stroke just maybe a little odd. Live and learn.

    Can't wait to see you in a few weeks!


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