Make Networking Go More Smoothly with Selfies

let me take a selfie

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For years, meeting new people for networking has included an awkward ritual. You arrive and scan the tables, looking for singletons. If you see a likely candidate, you have to go and ask if they are the person you are supposed to meet. If you don’t see anyone, you get a table and watch the entrance for someone who arrives alone and seems to be looking for someone they don’t know. Then you jump up and ask “hi, are you so-and-so?” If they are, it’s fine and you have coffee or lunch or drinks or whatever. If not, it’s awkward. And sometimes you send an email from your phone asking if you got the day wrong only to find out so-and-so has been sitting on the patio for twenty minutes while you were waiting inside.

The Internet helps — sometimes. If you can find a good picture of the person on their website or on LinkedIn or Facebook, you might have a better idea of who you are looking for. Although many profile photos on websites and LinkedIn appear to have been taken in the 80s and scanned badly. And many profile photos on Facebook are babies or dogs. Or, like me, you may have shaved off all your hair since your last profile photo.

So make it easy. Send a selfie about an hour before the meeting that shows what you look like. Like this:

Subject: Lunch today

Here is what I look like today, so you don’t have to awkwardly ask people if they come from the Internet.

2015-04-09 08.48.48

Looking forward to talking about the Lawyerist Podcast!


Make sure to get the top of your outfit in the frame, since that is probably easier to recognize at a distance than your face. Don’t obsess about the photo, either. The goal is just to help your networking contact locate you in a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar. You don’t need to make it a masterpiece. If it makes you feel better, you could ask them to keep the photo to themselves for that reason.

Sending a selfie in advance of your meeting also has the side benefit of serving as a reminder of your meeting without being patronizing. (Maybe it’s just me, but when someone sends a reminder it feels a bit patronizing, like they think I can’t be trusted to show up unless they remind me.)

The next time you are meeting someone in public for the first time, plan ahead — just a little bit — and send a quick selfie to make things go more smoothly.


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  • Anne Marie Segal

    Sam – instead of reminders, I send a “confirmation” that we are still on. That doesn’t seem patronizing, and it also serves as another touchpoint. As cool as your idea sounds, I don’t know that women feel as comfortable sending around multiple selfies of themselves, especially on a bad hair day!

    • I still find “confirmations” patronizing. I’m perfectly capable of contacting you to reschedule if I need to. You can safely assume from the fact that I haven’t that we are still on.

      That probably isn’t the prevailing sentiment. There are plenty of disorganized, absent-minded people who can’t keep track of their own pants, much less their own calendars, and they are probably grateful for a reminder. And if you want to work with them despite their flakiness, then a reminder or “confirmation” probably makes sense.

      I find it useful when someone misses an appointment because it’s a good indication that they probably won’t be reliable in other ways, either. I mean, it’s annoying, but it’s less annoying than trying to work with someone who can’t look after themselves.

      • Anne Marie Segal

        That’s very astute, and I agree about those who miss appointments – it’s a good arbiter for whether they can present themselves professionally and reliably, especially if you are asked to give a referral.

        Then again, there are a great many people who have unique gifts but managing a calendar is not one of them. My policy is always “three strikes, you’re out,” but some folks are clearly out on the first strike (and a complete no-show generally would be), since they disrespect you by not valuing your time.

        Now with Outlook and Google calendars, the phone often does the reminding, so there’s less of a need. But if I am traveling to meet someone (e.g., from CT to NYC), I want to make sure it is worth the trip!

        • I guess I’m pretty much a first-striker. I also generally use shared calendar appointments, so I know the appointment is on their calendar.

          I suppose it does depend on how far you’re going. I don’t think I’d mind a reminder if the person I am meeting was coming a long way to meet me. Seems like a reasonable reason to double-check.

          • Paul McGuire

            Well the one strike rule wouldn’t work in San Diego. It is the city of missed appointments and lack of notice. I find confirmations are at least better than reminders. It gives someone who may have gotten swamped and not had a chance to glance at the calendar an opportunity to respond and say “oh sorry let’s reschedule.” Considering it is usually a 30 minute drive to most meetings I schedule I would rather send a confirmation. By telling someone that I will send a confirmation ahead of time it makes it less of a problem I think.

            Though I do absolutely go with the 1 strike rule when it comes to potential clients. If they show up more than 15 minutes late to the first meeting and don’t let me know they are running late then I will consider them a no-show and refuse to re-schedule.

  • Paul McGuire

    Even better than this would be if more people would use decent-looking and accurate profile photos online. Some people don’t have a photo anywhere online whether professional or otherwise. These days your e-mail should have a photo attached with it like anything else so that people who have your e-mail should be able to recognize you when you meet with them. Though if they can’t be bothered to do that a selfie is the next best thing.