To put it bluntly, I was an absolute wreck at networking events in my first year at Sauder. They usually ended with me feeling unfulfilled and wishing that I could hide in my dorm for the rest of my days. I avoided those large-scale networking events as much as possible, until I realized that they’re rather inescapable. So, here are three key things I’ve learned from networking over the years.
Staff Writer: Amanda Bamford
Find Events You Passionately Care For
Sometimes, the hardest part of networking is starting the conversation. Unlike Tinder profiles, networking delegates don’t have an “About Me” attached to them; occasionally, there is a “Talk to me about [blank]” on their nametag but mostly, choosing a topic is a shot in the dark.
Fortunately, a helpful conversation starter can be the event itself, so leverage that by attending events on subjects you really care about and could discuss for days. Go to events centered around a topic you’re passionate about, whether it be capital markets, sustainability, or LGBTQ+ issues, and you’ll be surrounded by people who you already have something in common with. Let your passion for the subject break the ice for you.
If you’re not overly social, don’t try to be. Trying to be someone you’re not is emotionally draining and is not a good way to form genuine connections.
Instead, leverage your strengths. If you’re an introvert, that probably means you’re a great listener so capitalize on that and ask interesting questions to keep a good conversation going while showing that you’re engaged in what they’re talking about.
Large-scale networking events can get overwhelming very quickly. You know yourself and your limits better than anyone else, so if you need to step outside for a few minutes, do it. Take the time to recharge!
Networking is only synonymous with torture if you let it be, so don’t give up and try your best. You’ll figure it out in no time.