Illustration: Michael Rubin

The Forge Guide to Networking

Don’t be thirsty, for one thing

Twitter’s useful for a lot of things: keeping up with the news, subtweeting the news, and getting attacked by trolls when your jokes about the news get posted on Gab. It is also a great way to network. Over the years, I’ve gotten work from clients who found me on Twitter, and I’ve had public relations folks and creatives pitch me on good stories after reading my feed.

Sometimes Twitter can even lead to a big break. Erin Gloria Ryan, a writer with 178,000 Twitter followers, ended up switching careers thanks to someone who appreciated her tweets. That someone happened…

A script for saying no with minimal awkwardness

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Being asked to serve as someone’s professional reference is a compliment (they care about what you think), but it can also be kind of a drag (one more phone call you need to schedule time for), even as it’s also a small joy (you get to help someone advance their career).

But when you’re not a fan of the person who’s asking, all those other things are rendered irrelevant, replaced with a squirmy sense of dread. You don’t want to say Kyle was a great culture fit but had the tendency to do moderately terrible work. …


A script for saying no when an in-person one-on-one isn’t the best use of your time

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In a sea of Slack chatter and overcrowded inboxes, a scheduled face-to-face conversation with a colleague can be a valuable resource — if you actually have things to talk about. Sometimes, though, a one-on-one is more of a waste of time than a productive use of it. Maybe you and this person just don’t have enough to cover to warrant a whole meeting. Maybe it feels more social than useful, a check-in that’s really more of an aimless chat.

Or maybe this meeting ranks 137th on the list of things you want to get done today, in between cleaning the…


If you’re hooked on the scroll, here’s how to separate you from your phone

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The first thing I do when I wake up is check Twitter on my phone. I know this is a bad habit, not just because the app’s small print is starting to strain my eyes, but because my day starts off with an endless scroll. Sometimes I’m able to put my phone down after a quick look at the notifications, but usually I get sucked in, scrolling through bad news, bad takes, and good jokes until I realize I’m running late.

The mindless scroll isn’t limited to my mornings. I scroll through my Instagram feed at parties. I click through…


A script for convincing your manager to let you work from home or deviate from traditional work hours

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It’s never been easier to get things done outside the confines of a 9-to-5 workday. Video conferencing, Slack, and a slew of productivity and project-management tools help blur the lines between time in the office and time outside of it.

This ability to work wherever, whenever, has obvious downsides, but it also comes in handy when life throws a wrench into a more traditional schedule. You might regularly have to pick up your kid from school at 3 p.m. You might have a chronic medical issue that requires regular appointments. You might need to care for an aging parent, or…


A script for outlining your expectations kindly, clearly, and firmly

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Scripts is a weekly series dedicated to helping you navigate the tough conversations.

If an employee is missing targets, blowing deadlines, or handing in shoddy work, it can be tempting to push off any conversation about it and hope that things get better on their own. But you’re not just doing yourself and your company a disservice by staying quiet. An employee who’s falling short deserves to know it so that they have the opportunity to self-correct before things get too dire. And having to fire someone is even more uncomfortable than stepping in earlier.

Delivering the news effectively, though…

You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t use this time to bring up a few specific points

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The primary purpose of a performance review is exactly what it sounds like: It’s an opportunity for your employer to tell you how you’re doing. But while a quarterly or annual sit-down is certainly a good time to get feedback, you aren’t doing yourself any favors if feedback is all you hope to get out of it. It’s also a chance for you, the employee, to look forward, and to get some tips on how you can grow both in your specific role and in your career, overall.

“Think about it in three buckets,” says executive coach Meg Myers Morgan

Strategies for making it through the day when you’re bored, miserable, and still have work to do

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It’s easy to get out of bed and head to the office when you’re excited about your job, but when it feels like a slog, staying motivated is a herculean task. Calling in sick starts to seem more and more appealing. So does whiling away the workday playing solitaire. But productivity-sucking coping mechanisms, while they may help you feel better in the moment, ultimately create a vicious cycle: A job is even worse when you feel like you’re bored and bad at it.

This isn’t necessarily a sign you need to jump ship — sometimes even the best jobs have…

Advice for new managers on the most effective way to deliver feedback

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Sitting down for a performance review can be harrowing or helpful, depending on your manager’s style. Some offer helpful tips to fine-tune your work or, if your performance is slipping, get you back on track. Some just hand you a vague checklist enumerating all the things you’ve done right or wrong, and send you on your way.

But as difficult as it is to have a performance review, it can be even more stressful to give one. If you’re a manager, there’s a lot riding on doing it well: In the modern working world, performance reviews are a rare opportunity…

Listening to incessant complaining can hurt your happiness and your job performance

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There’s something uniquely cathartic in complaining to your colleagues about your shared place of work. Unlike your real friends, your work friends understand your specific office grievances, and can commiserate with you about the micromanaging boss’s assistant and/or the broken elevator that always makes you late.

But there’s such a thing as blowing off too much steam. “A Debbie Downer sometimes changes the whole workplace climate,” says organizational psychologist Amy Cooper Hakim, the author of Working with Difficult People, and it’s hard to do good work when Susan is Slacking you every 15 minutes to whine about how nobody respects…

Rebecca Fishbein

Rebecca Fishbein is a writer in Brooklyn & the author of GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO PEOPLE YOU HATE, out 10/15. Find her on Twitter at @bfishbfish.

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