Fire Drills are the Best Networking Opportunities

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Last updated on February 5th, 2024 at 05:35 pm

Today was going to wrap up the Quest for Less Manifesto, but it being a post on changing our behaviours, it’s getting to be pretty long, and I don’t want to sacrifice quality in order to reach a deadline.

Good thing I always have a Plan B.

Yesterday, we got caught up in a fire drill at work, and it got me thinking. And thinking gets me to writing. So get ready for another one of my hare-brained ideas…!

Working on the 15th floor sucks. Not all the time—usually only when there’s a fire drill. Having to make it down 15 flights of stairs at a pace that would make a turtle cry can be pretty gruelling, as is waiting for the elevators afterwards so you can get back to your office. But, never one to see only the bad side of unexpected situations, I propose a fun activity to try next time you find yourself slowly descending for the sake of practising smart safety:


It’s unorthodox. It’s inconvenient. It’s PERFECT. In a building like mine, you’re siloed off in a number of separate offices. Even when you see people from other offices, we often don’t make the effort to get to know them (unless they’re hot). You might come from different fields and have nothing in common. Maybe they’ll think you’re coming on too strong. But fire drills are the ULTIMATE EQUALIZER. We humans bond best through shared experiences, especially in the moment of the experience, where the social dynamics of usual day-to-day behaviour are altered, and new rules are quickly formed for social interaction and conduct. I jokingly mentioned the idea when caught up in a drill, but then I thought about it. If you’re going to spend 10–15 minutes slowly going down the stairs with a bunch of random people, you may as well make the best of it!
If the building isn’t ACTUALLY burning down, may I suggest:

  • Handing out your business card to people you meet
  • Having copies of your resume on hand in case you suddenly find yourself in the presence of the presence of the executive(s) you’ve been trying to get an audience with forever and a day
  • Perfecting your elevator pitch so that you can easily tell someone what you’re all about in a matter of seconds
  • Doing more listening than talking if someone else feels like being chatty
  • If you talk to someone and one of your colleagues happens to have a skill that might be useful to them, perhaps (and obviously with your colleague’s permission) you could introduce them to form a new connection

I doubt that this is really practiced, but it does open the door for new possibilities of the unusual stories people can have for how they met. You could go from the unknown nameless person in the corner to the memorable person who introduced themselves in the stairwell with a shiny business card and a snappy elevator pitch.

I think I’ve just started my new favourite activity at work.

Now, remember, only do this if the building isn’t burning down. If it is, you’ve got other things to worry about…

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad



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