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How I Learned To Be a Hustler: Confessions of a Reluctant Networker

Career Advice |

Everyday I’m, everyday I’m, everyday I’m hustlin’
Ev-ev-ev-everyday I’m hustlin’
Everyday I’m hustlin’
Ev-ev-ev-everyday I’m hustlin’
Ev-ev-everyday I’m, everyday I’m, everyday I’m hustlin’
Everyday I’m hustlin’ hustlin’ hustlin’ hust-hustlin’ -Rick Ross

I’ve never thought of myself much as a hustler. I have always been an extremely hard worker, but being a hustler is different. Up until now, it always had a bit of a negative connotation for me. A hustler is pushy, demanding, and maybe a little shady. If you watch the spectacular trailer for the film American Hustler, you’ll get my point (Bradley Cooper’s hair alone is convincing.)

However, recently I was called a hustler and I realized it was actually a compliment. I am currently in the midst of establishing myself as a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. I am talking to everyone I possibly can and promoting myself. I’m writing tons of emails, I am being persistent (remember there is a difference between being persistent and nagging), and I’m networking, or power networking as I like to call it (with power networking you burn more calories.) I am not shy or rather a lazy networker anymore because I can’t be. My livelihood depends on it.

Hustler in the working world just means strategic self-promotion and constant networking and also looking for non-obvious opportunities. I’m not walking around with a cane and a hat throwing my cards at people, but I am trying to get more people to listen to me. And it is actually working! Yes, I’ve had to eat more Ramen noodles than usual this month, but that’s okay! It makes me feel like I am 24 again. Fun!

I am taking my work ethic and just channeling it all these different things. It’s hard work, but also exciting. I am getting to see a whole new side of myself. There are a lot of things I can’t control right now, but one thing I can control is how much I am networking and promoting myself. I can take charge of that.

So these are my tips for being a hustler. Hustling 101, if you will.

1. Give everything you got

It won’t work unless you are putting everything you got into it. It is not going to be easy. It’s cliche but no pain, no game.

2. Be fearless

I swear I used to be the person that hated to write the emails once again asking if they had read my stuff or could meet for coffee, but now I do it all the time and most of the time people thank me. I’ve been in the other seat and it’s hard to answer those emails when you have a million other things to do. But I have really found that the second email from someone is just enough of a push that they realize you are seriously interested or excited. It is not embarrassing. If they never email you back, then it is their loss.

3. Network until the cows come home

As Sallie Krawcheck says, networking is the new career. You have to talk everybody because you never know how they can help you. Last week at a Marie Claire event, Krawcheck, owner of 85 Broads said, “We should embrace networking. It is the number one unwritten rule of succeeding in your career.” It is almost a hundred percent more likely that your next job is going to come from a loose business connection and not a friend, she says.

I am a social person, but it takes me a little while to warm up. I don’t have time for that anymore. If you have this problem too, take a sip of wine and bring a friend who can be your networking woman and get to it. It will get easier every time. Talk about how awkward you are. That is one of my best ice breakers.

4. Love it

Hustling is work, but it is really exciting. You never know who you are going to meet and what opportunity may present itself. Right now, literally every day something happens that I could not have predicted. I am introduced to another person or made aware of a company or job I didn’t even know existed. Embrace it! That is the only way you will thrive. Remember, “Good things happen to those who hustle.”


Ask Sallie Krawcheck for more of her networking tips!

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career path email freelance networking sallie krawcheck


Great article as usual Meredith! I also have been a reluctant networker as of late. What would you say is the line between persistence and nagging?


I cringe at the thought of having to "network" because I hate the idea of advertising myself. Nevertheless, I understand it is a necessity and the only way to achieve better results is to practice, practice, practice!

My suggestion for those like me is to treat every social situation as a practice run. The magic that you're looking for will happen as you're "practicing."

Also, change your psychological approach to these types of events: Step into every social event with the mindset of helping others. Instead of speaking about yourself, try following these steps first:
First, really listen to people.
Then, ask questions and dig deeper.
Finally, offer your help in any way. Maybe offer advice or even connect that person with someone else than can help.

By shifting the focus from self-serving intentions to a more benevolent cause, you'll ease some of the pressure and be more comfortable. Also, this way you'll demonstrate your value instead of having to advertise it. Naturally, people will want to hear more from you and about you. It will be a reciprocal relationship right off the bat, these are the really good ones ;)

So, next social event follow these steps and give yourself a goal of talking to at least 5 strangers and introducing at least two strangers to each other.

Good luck!


Great article. I too have been reluctant to label myself a hustler, but it's definitely a mindset one should adopt if you're serious about career advancement.

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the Editor at Large for Levo League. Before that she was the Editor in Chief of The Grindstone and was on staff at Business Insider. She has written for magazines including Marie Claire, SELF, Women's Health and Cosmopolitan. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys SoulCycle, jogging and playing with her Yorkshire Terrier Otis, who also loves SoulCycle.