Senior Feature: Networking Advice
Networking is a very important skill to possess, but it can be quite overwhelming learning where to start. With COVID making everything virtual, it’s even harder to form those personal connections. Luckily, some of our senior CWIB members have offered to share their top networking tips!
Jillian Hoglan: Be a good listener
CWIB’s Co-CEO Jillian Hoglan shared her top networking advice is to be a good listener. She mentioned, “You need to be genuinely interested in getting to know the other person better. You can do this by asking them engaging questions about themselves to form a deeper connection. Don't let talking about yourself get in the way of finding out more about them!” She shared she is still working on mastering this skill, but it’s important to have. When talking with recruiters, you should practice active listening. This is a technique that requires the listener to fully understand what the speaker is saying before responding. This allows you to better remember the information being shared. By practicing active listening, you can learn more about your recruiter by not wasting time thinking about what you’re going to say next. Just let the conversation flow!
Emma Harwood: Make your own opportunities
Emma Harwood, CWIB Chronicles Editor-in-Chief, shared her best networking advice would be to make your own opportunities. She, “used to think there would be plenty of opportunities to meet others in her professional field, but the most impactful experiences she had are when she reached out and made opportunities happen for herself.” Emma plans to become a registered dietitian (RD) after graduating. Even prior to COVID, it was difficult for Emma to find experiences in hospitals or clinics. One day she decided to send an email to a private practice dietitian in her hometown to see if she had any intern opportunities. In the email, Emma expressed her interests and qualifications. This simple email led to her finally getting valuable experience by working as an intern and eventually becoming a paid employee. Now Emma runs the company’s social media accounts and presents nutrition webinars. Emma shared, “Don't be afraid to make opportunities for yourself because you never know how it could all work out and lead you closer to your professional goals!”
Allison Wood: Keep a journal of every business professional you meet
Allison Woods, the current VP of Operations, shared her top tip is to keep track of every business professional you meet. Immediately after you meet a recruiter, write down any contact information they gave you. If they didn’t give you any, check to see if they have any contact information available online. You can easily look them up on LinkedIn if you remember their name. Write down where they work, what their position is, where you met them, and what you talked about. This will help you to be able to jog your memory in the future if you ever want or need to contact them again. Allison also recommends that you always follow-up with your recruiter after you meet. You can do this through email or by first connecting with them and then sending them a message on LinkedIn.
Emma Sedlack: Start the conversation
Emma Sedlack, CWIB’s current CFO, says her best networking advice is to not be afraid to start the conversation. The more confident you are, the more appealing you are to the person you are speaking to. Approach the recruiter/presenter with a smile and strong handshake to set the tone for your conversation. You can boost your confidence before a career fair or interview by practicing positive self-talk in the mirror 20 minutes before your interview/career fair is scheduled to start. If you believe in yourself, others will feed off your energy and believe you are competent and confident too. Even if you’re just attending a CWIB monthly meeting, don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out to a speaker after the event. Reaching out to a speaker will set you apart from the rest of your peers and the speaker will appreciate your initiative!
Mina Cho: Never sell yourself short
CWIB’s VP of Treks Mina Cho shared her top networking tip is to never sell yourself short. She said, “It’s easy to undermine your experience and accomplishments because you don’t want to come off as boastful, but your story is uniquely yours. You are the sum of everything you’ve seen, heard, and done so advocate for yourself and be proud.” Even if an accomplishment might not seem like a big deal to some people, if you are proud of it don’t be afraid to speak about it. No accomplishment is too small. Everyone starts somewhere.
Nafisa Sayeeda: Ask a lot of meaningful questions
Lastly, CWIB’s other Co-CEO, Nafisa Sayeeda, shared her top networking tip is to ask a lot of questions but to make sure to keep the conversation meaningful. She advises you to have a direction in mind on where you want the conversation to go. This way, you can try to direct the conversation and make sure you get all your questions addressed while sharing the main points you want to get across. By asking questions you are able to make sure the company is a good fit for you, not just that you’re a good fit for them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also don’t ask too many questions that you are overtaking the conversation. Normally, interviewers will save your questions for the end, so make sure you have at least two in mind to bring up.
It’s never too early to start networking for your future career. Just remember to practice active listening when talking with professionals, write down everything you remember following your conversation, and never be scared to start the conversation and make your own opportunities happen. You should also never be scared of coming off too boastful as long as you focus on being confident rather than arrogant. Most of all, be proud of your accomplishments! Lastly, don’t forget to ask questions to make sure the organization is also a good fit for you! If you keep in mind these tips, you are sure to stand out among your peers and build a strong network of individuals in your field of study!