How to thrive during networking opportunities

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Whether you’re in your first year or graduating soon, networking is a life skill that everyone needs. It opens up a world of possibilities by being exposed to job opportunities, life and career advice, and learning more about different industries. 

In 2017, it was even reported that companies did not list at least 70 per cent of their available jobs. However, networking can still be daunting for many of us, alongside new tips and tricks that need to be learned (for myself included). 

So, what can we do to improve?

First, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If networking is out of your comfort zone and nerves often get the best of you, then anticipate them. Allow them to teach you that you’re doing a big thing that will contribute to your personal growth and success. 

Conversations may not always go as planned, but that’s okay! It can be easy to think that conversations should always go perfect, but this leaves no room for human error. We’re not talking machines.

Next, construct a game plan and do your research.

Think of this almost like a two-way interview. What are your goals heading into this? Do you have the proper socials and connections for people to contact you, such as a LinkedIn account or a contact card?  

Prepare possible questions and conversation topics to eliminate that element of surprise that may cause nervousness. If you know who you’re about to converse with, research them a bit more and show initiative that will shine through in conversations.

Center your self-confidence; recognize that the life experiences you bring to this networking event are valid, and that you have gained so many transferable skills along the way. 

Networking is a two-way street—show genuine interest. 

Don’t just say things to people-please. Remind yourself that generally, people love to answer questions that allow them to share their worldview, experiences, and learned wisdom. 

This isn’t just about you trying to find opportunities for yourself, but to learn and genuinely help others in their endeavours. 

Before the conversation comes to an end, authentically offer your help and services, founded by a shared passion you have with them. A good practice is to reiterate what the other person has said with a positive thought or personal experience, and then asking them to elaborate further.

Embrace your personality.

While it can be easy to believe that extroverts have more to bring to the table during networking than introverts, there are no research documents that prove this. 

For example, the archetype of an introvert makes room for conversation and asks important questions. The archetype of an extrovert may talk more, but sometimes this leaves less room for listening. 

It is time to perceive certain personality traits as advantages, rather than flaws. Remember that you have something valuable to bring to everyone you meet and that you can always learn something new.

Persist! The most common word in networking is “no.”
Sometimes conversations are so fruitful they bring around job opportunities and internships, but other times, they don’t. Give yourself that space to try again and improve, and don’t be so hard on yourself. Everything is a learning experience.

Now that we’ve gone over a couple of tips and tricks, it’s time to go out there and do the thing! 

It can be scary, I know. But luckily, Laurier gives out some great resources for networking opportunities through emails and the Career Centre, and you can even get connected on Ten Thousand Coffees to meet with Laurier alumni. 

Networking isn’t just something for students who are graduating or for those looking for jobs;, it’s simply a wonderful way to get connected and to gain more wisdom. Let’s do this.

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