CRN Reviews

CRN logo


The CRN review are written and curated by CRN’s own Jack Cluth. Visit this page often to see what we’re up to!


An introduction to networking from an introvert’s perspective 

I arrived at my first CRN meeting and immediately noticed people all around me eagerly engaged in small talk. Not a single familiar face was to be found. I scanned the room, convinced I was the only one feeling alone and exposed. It took every ounce of strength I possessed at that moment to refrain from turning on my heels and leaving.

That’s how my first networking event began, and because of that there almost wasn’t a second. But there I was, trying not to look like a wallflower even though it felt as if “WALLFLOWER!!” was stamped on my forehead in indelible fluorescent ink. Combine that with my usual lack of confidence when it comes to attending networking events, and I was WAY outside my comfort zone.

I did the only thing I could: I scanned the room, took a deep breath, and said hello to a complete stranger. And I tried to act as if it was the most natural thing in the world…even though I’m the owner of the world’s worst poker face.

If you knew me, you’d know how incredibly difficult it was to take that first step. I’m a proud, committed introvert who’s devoted his life to disproving John Donne’s conviction that “no man is an island.” You want me to walk into a room and confidently speak with people I don’t know? I’d sooner try to out-swim a herd of bloodthirsty sharks while wearing concrete swim fins.

I found a way to take that first step into the void. As with many things in life, the first step is the hardest. Once I got past that, it gradually became easier. It might not ever be “easy,” but I forced myself into motion and momentum took over.

Once I took that step, I learned something that’s made networking less stressful. Few people truly feel comfortable while networking. I may never feel completely at ease and thoroughly enjoy networking- at least not in the way I enjoy sitting in a 100-level seat at a Trail Blazers game. It is becoming easier, though. I’m learning how to make small talk (which I’ve never liked), and developing that skill has lead to some very interesting conversations. Who knows where that might lead? I might even surprise myself and find a useful contact or two.


Here’s a couple tips if you’re thinking about coming to a CRN meeting:

  1.         Networking is like any other learned skill: the more you do it, the better you become. Just Do It!
  2.         The key to overcoming fear is to face what frightens you…and then do it.


I know that networking will probably always be stressful for me…but guess what? I’m not alone. I’ve learned that networking challenges most people, and there’s strength to be found in shared suffering. It takes courage to walk into a room and try to strike up conversations with people you’ve never met. I find it comforting to know I’m not alone in that fear. If nothing else works, I can always talk to someone about how nervous I’m feeling. I’ve lost track of how many conversations I’ve started that way, and the odds are good that the response I’ll get is, “Me too.”

I’ve done enough networking to understand that most of my fears have proven to be unfounded. Turns out that when people meet me, they like me. Go figure, eh? You’d think that wouldn’t surprise me, but it invariably does. People enjoy speaking with me. Who could have foreseen that??

Networking has turned out to be one of the best things this committed introvert has forced himself to do. I’ve made a few friends (something that’s never been easy), and I’ve helped a few people even as others have helped me. I’ve learned that networking means meeting people who legitimately want to help others, even as they’re searching for their next opportunity. I’m becoming more comfortable with allowing others to assist me, and I’ve found it to be rewarding to give AND receive.

No one will ever accuse me of being an extrovert, comfortable with glad-handing and making small talk with strangers. A very wise man once told me that it helped him to look at a room full of unfamiliar faces not as strangers but as potential friends. I’ve found that bit of wisdom to be invaluable.

I’m getting better at networking, and I know that in the long run it’s good for me to force myself out of my shell. Who knows? Maybe it will even help me get to where I want to be.



This week’s Career Resources Network meeting spotlighted the work the CRN leadership team is doing to expand the services and products available to assist those in career transition or looking for career improvement. If you missed the meeting, you missed hearing about some new and exciting things.

Some of the programs in various stages of development include a recruiter database, a veteran’s assistance program, and CRN Boot Camp for Professionals- with more career-boosting workshops to come. Stay tuned…or, better yet, come to the next CRN meeting!

CRN now has Facebook and Twitter accounts. We’re still feeling our way, but we hope social media will become a valuable tool to help spread the word and attract more people.

There’s also a CRN blog (which you’re reading now). We’ll be using this platform for announcements and to discuss and expand on ideas and programs. Ideas for blog topics are ALWAYS appreciated, BTW.

Balki Kodarapu unveiled a new Internet-based tool called “CRN ActionPath,” available exclusively to Career Resources Network attendees. CRN ActionPath is designed to pinpoint companies that might fit your unique interests and/or skill set. Balki and his business partner continue to collect more information on local companies, and CRN ActionPath looks as if will develop into and exciting and valuable tool.

This week’s guest speaker was Jerry Vieira, CMC. The President and Founder of the QMP Group, Inc., Jerry’s of one Portland’s premier marketing consultants. His topic was “Consulting: Is It Right For You?” If you’re experienced in your field, you may have wondered if your knowledge and seasoning might translate to a consulting career. Knowledge, experience, and passion are the minimum requirements, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. If you’d been at the meeting, you’d have left with a better sense of whether consulting is the right path for you.

After the traditional post-meeting networking, Martin Espinoza, President of My Support, offered a short presentation on resumes. If you’re like me, you had NO idea how much you’d done wrong in putting together your resume. I’m rather embarrassed, but since I was at the meeting, I learned a few things that will help me to present myself more effectively. The most important lesson was that a resume is a living, breathing document (figuratively speaking) in need of constant care and attention. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that will work regardless of the opportunity you’re seeking.

Who knew that creatively using whitespace might allow you to get the best of a resume scanner??

Thanks to the folks at University of Phoenix for graciously hosting CRN. Their support is invaluable, and we look forward to continuing what we hope will be a long and mutually productive partnership.

Want to know more? Come to the next CRN meeting on Wednesday, March 12th! Doors open at 7:15 a.m. The guest speaker’s topic will be, “Who are you, and what would be…An Awesome Fit.” Jennie Mitchell Bremer, an Executive Coach and Leadership Trainer, will share interactively about the importance of understanding your core values, strengths, and what you’ll need to overcome prior to embarking on new ventures. This training will help you find the opportunity that’s right for you and provide clarity in your interactions during the career exploration and development process.

Bring a smile, your elevator pitch, and some business cards. You might just meet someone who can help you…or that you’ll be able help. You’ll no doubt leave wondering, as most of us do, how Doug can be so chipper and energetic at such a ridiculously early hour.

– Jack Cluth