I have decided that the best way to illustrate how you can effectively use some of the strategies that I am describing to find a career is to have some of my students tell you about what they have done.
Therefore, I am delighted to introduce my first guest blogger. A dynamic, energetic and highly involved young woman, who, becuase of her determination and fantastic networking skills is going to go far. Welcome Sonja!
The Power of Positive Networking
Hi there! My name is Sonja Fernandes. I am a 22-year-old student currently studying an Honors Specialization in Philosophy at Huron University College. I wanted to write this blog entry to share my experiences of networking with you, how powerful it can be and how you can do it too! Since this is my last semester, I have been franticly trying to figure out what my next step was. For some reason, I felt as if I had to know what it was. What I realized was that this is not the case. When you put yourself out there, the opportunities you dreamt about will come to you!
I decided I wanted to apply to Graduate School and further my education through a more tangible and career focused Masters Program. I thought this would be a good option for me since I was not exactly sure what career field I wanted to work in. I got my application together and sent it away. The very next day, I attended the Student2Business Networking Conference in London, Ontario. I was curious to see what potential career opportunities were available to me and I wanted to practice my networking skills. Little did I know that this one event would have such a large impact on my life!
I went into the event with zero expectations and I think that is very important. In any situation in life, when we have expectations we are more likely to be disappointed. I attended several workshops during the day and spoke with the Huron University College booth and the Emerging Leaders booth. All gave me wonderful insight into their programs. After this, I was asked by a representative from London Community News to be in a story about the conference. I agreed. After this, I made my way into the conference area to listen to the keynote speech. I didn’t bring my glasses so I needed to sit at the front in order to see the presentation. Guess who decides to sit at the table I chose? The President of the LEDC, Peter White and then the Mayor Joe Fontana! After the keynote speech, I spoke with those at the table and I wanted the keynote speaker to know that she did an amazing job and she if she would be interested in coming to Huron and telling the Huron students. She agreed!!!
I have 4 tips that I would share with anyone who is attending a career event:
1. Dress Appropriately; the way you present yourself to others in crucial to making an impression and standing out of a crowd. Don’t be afraid to be yourself with the colors you chose to wear but make sure that what you are wearing is appropriate for the event and is giving off a perfect reflection of you.
2. Think before you speak; it’s 100% normal to be nervous. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are contemplating approaching someone? Use that energy to move you toward the person, extend your hand and introduce yourself with 3 sentences; your name, what you do, and why you are at the event. Prepare this in advance. If you take a secound to gather your thoughts before you speak to someone, what you say is going to be impeccable.
3. Be confident; think of those who you will be approaching as new friends instead of potential employers. I compare the behavior to my dog; she doesn’t think twice before approaching another dog to say hello, neither should you! Just don’t sniff their butt, that would be kind of awkward. Try some diaphragmatic breathing to calm your nerves and tell yourself positive affirmations like “I can do this”, “I feel confident”, or “I feel happy”. The simplest way to do this is by smiling. Practice your smile in the mirror before you go. You’d be surprised how much of a serotonin boost you get just from smiling.
4. Try your best; only you know your limits and who you are. Let yourself shine! Show others what you are capable of!
Since the Student2Business Networking event, I have made invaluable connections in the London community that I never thought was possible. The week after the Stundent2Busines, I went to a Lunch about London Career Event at Huron College where I again saw and engaged with the same folks from S2B. From a connection made at that event, I was invited to attend another networking event hosted by BizInc at Western. There I saw the same folks AGAIN and I was starting to get ubiquitous and catching their attention. Never give up and never say no to an opportunity to network! You never know what can come from it.