THE BLOG
11/01/2012 09:38 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Networking Lessons From Frankenstein's Monsters

Whether he was portrayed in film or in parody, Frankenstein's monster was a man of few words: "Fire: bad; friend: good." With that limited vocabulary, it's no wonder the peasants chased him out of the village with torches.

You'll likely get a similar 21st century reaction at a networking event when you don't communicate well. You know when you're chatting with someone and they find a reason to walk away -- to freshen a drink, make a call or do something more important? It's often legitimate; after all, there's limited time at many networking or business events. But if you notice a pattern of people excusing themselves from the conversation, that's your "Fire: bad; friend: good" moment.

Lesson: Re-evaluate what you're saying and how you're saying it. Tighten your message and learn how to articulate it with clarity. We live in a Twitter-esque sound bite world, so don't meander your way to the point of your story, or you'll see eyes glaze and torches flare.

The monster in Gene Wilder's Young Frankenstein began from unsophisticated beginnings too, but he stepped up his networking game. He dressed in a tux, learned to sing and dance and took center stage. Maybe he had some troubles along the way and didn't always act like a gentleman, but in the end, he wound up with a bride and reading the Wall Street Journal.

Lesson: You don't need a brain transplant to learn the networking activities of successful people. Pay attention to how they carry themselves, communicate, work a room and adapt some of those best practices and make them your own. The monster in Young Frankenstein may not have been able to sing "Puttin' on the Ritz" as well as the doctor who created him, but the big guy made that tap dancing solo all his own.

Herman Munster of the TV show The Munsters was, presumably, the most professionally successful of the monster iterations. Herman has a steady job at the funeral home, Gateman Goodbury & Graves, which is often referred to as "the Parlor," and gets positive recognition from his employer (although he got fired in an episode where he asked for a raise). He even took a driving test for a commercial license so he could get a promotion. His boss once said Herman was "one of the few people at the parlor who don't lie down on the job."

My memory and Googling skills also reveal he was a man, I mean monster, of many talents: he wrestled; became a detective; had opportunities to become a movie star and baseball player; learned to be a magician; and was in a rodeo.

Lesson: Even though he continually advanced and remained steadily employed at the Parlor, Herman kept his network diverse (vampires, werewolves and Army buddies among them) and strong, leading him to new employment options he could explore. Herman remained a lifelong learner, sharpening his skill set for his current job, while developing new abilities that could help him land a better role.

As you watch any monster-themed movies this Halloween, pay attention to the big guy's interactions with others. Dracula was charming, but the Frankenstein monster learned how to play nice with others, proving you can be a born networker or made into one.