The end of the semester is almost here! It’s also the beginning of the holiday season and with it plenty of invites to parties. For those of you who are looking for work, parties are a great place to network. Students usually cringe at the sound of the word networking. It conjures up images of people putting on fake smiles as their eyes peer just past your shoulders to see who else is in the room. It’s not a very warm and fuzzy feeling when you feel completely unheard and unnoticed standing in a room full of strangers. And, I guess they are right. We all want to be noticed, heard & appreciated.
I was one of those people who hated networking especially at formal networking events. It felt so inauthentic. Then, I read a quote that changed my perspective. It read “The secret of positive networking is discovering what you can do for someone else.” I loved that line because it took me completely off the hook. I decided that instead of trying to figure out something clever to say, I would simply ask questions. I also found that by making others feel more at ease, I was more at ease too. Instead of trying to sell myself I became curious about how I could be of service. I would introduce new people to each other, pass on information, help or talk to a person sitting alone by making small talk. You see, you don’t have to spend the whole evening pitching yourself to others. You still need to practice whatever it is that you want people to know about yourself but when you’ve done that……it’s all about the small talk! The topics are endless, vacations, new cars, sleepless nights with a new baby, love those Leafs. Need I go on? It’s called the art of conversation! The trick is to do more listening than talking. You will find other ways to make deeper connections than just finding out about their work. When it comes down to it, people want to connect with people they like so just be yourself and form relationships that will last your entire career. If you aren’t connecting with the person then move on. Go rescue the wallflower standing on the sidelines looking petrified. You can do this. The choice is yours to make.
Peggy Shkuda, Career Counsellor and Networker
Quote: Work the Pond by Darcy Rezac – check it out in the Career Center library!