Recap by Brigitta Berze
On July 11, Green Careers hosted a workshop where participants were taught the dos and don’ts of networking and guided through exercises to practice networking in a more relaxed environment. Thanks to the helpful tips given by GreenHomeNYC volunteers Emily Taubenblatt and Samantha Yost, attendees walked away with a practical guide on how to properly network.
According to Sam, the first rule of any networking event is to Be on Time! She then asked the timeless question: What is your fear about networking? Naturally, people’s biggest fears related to their confidence in their knowledge about relevant topics to discuss, the awkwardness of selling yourself to someone in a high position, and not having anything in common with the person with whom you are speaking.
Sam eased concerns as she explained that having a successful networking experience does not depend on being a social butterfly. Proper networking is about making connections and building professional relationships. She recommended Kate Griffin’s ‘Human to Human Networking’. Sam reminded us that at the end of the day the CEO or Vice President of a company is human too, and asking for an informational interview is always a good idea. Trying to get to know someone professionally is a process and networking is building long-term relationships. Don’t be afraid to e-mail the person you really want to meet to start the conversation.
Emily gave some helpful tips on successful networking as well. Attend as many events as you can because you never know who you will meet or where you might find your next career opportunity. If you don’t know what to say, a great way to begin a conversation is to ask the other person about themselves and listen to what they have to say. Collect and exchange business cards with as many people as you can, and follow-up on connections soon after meeting them. A great tip Emily gave is to write on the business card what the person looked like or something that will help you remember the person for the future. After a you’ve collected many business cards, you’ll forget who you met where and why you have their card, and making a quick note will help you keep track and remember.
Networking really boils down to being outgoing versus being shy. It’s important to be outgoing, and if you are shy don’t be afraid to fake it. Don’t only focus on one person at an event either. Mingling with different people is key to maximizing your connections. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People generally like to share their knowledge. Finally, don’t be overzealous when speaking about yourself. It’s important to strike the right balance of listening and talking.
Emily advised that when you are networking at an event you should take notes and write down questions to ask individuals after the presentation. Asking anything about the topic is a good ice breaker. Happy Hours are usually more relaxed since everyone has a drink to soothe their nerves. However, do not get too loose. Keep your wits about you so that you can make good impressions and keep an eye on your goals. When connecting online be brief and polite, and always make sure your social media profiles are up-to-date.
Networking is something that many people dread, but when you ask a room full of professionals how they came to be in their current positions, most will say through networking. With a little practice and helpful advice, anyone can have a successful experience.
Thanks to Thoughtworks for hosting and to the volunteers for their time.