Becoming More Comfortable Networking

Whether it’s through power posing or positive self-talk, becoming a more comfortable networker can be a helpful step towards starting your career. Networking events allow you to put a face to the professions we learn about in textbooks. While reading the personality profile of an accountant or lawyer may be a helpful way to learn about your dream career path, meeting professionals in the workforce can help you develop a clearer image of your potential future. Not only does networking allow you to gain insight, but it also provides you with the opportunity to connect with experienced professionals, giving you an edge when it comes to recruitment. While the benefits of networking are endless, the process can be stressful and uncomfortable at first. After participating in a handful of pre-recruitment accounting events, I’ve learned how to make the most of networking.
1. Get to know who you’re talking to beforehand.

If there’s an event with a specific firm or within a particular industry, do your research. By trying to get to know as much as possible about the people you’re going to speak to, you have a better idea of what to expect. Learning about a firm’s services, values, and mission can give you insight about how the event can improve your understanding of your career. Instead of asking simple questions that anyone can answer through a quick Google search, you can now get more specific guidance.

2. Ask questions you genuinely want the answers to.

You have access to people who were once in your shoes: take advantage of it. Capitalize on the fact that you’re in a room with professionals who know what it takes to get where they are and have a comprehensive understanding of matters in their field. Asking questions about things you’re interested in makes networking events feel more natural and helpful and less awkward.

3. Make an effort to meet other students, too.

They’re like you: inexperienced and eager to learn. Making friends at networking events helps make the events themselves less stressful. Not only do other students understand your struggle, but they can introduce you to valuable connections and ease conversation, preventing dreaded awkward silences.

4. Talk to as many people as possible.

Every person who works within your desired career has different experiences and points-of-view. By speaking to as many people as possible, not only do you connect with multiple professionals, but you also get a better understanding of what your career path could look like. While speaking with as many people as possible can be challenging, it allows you to practice your communication skills and be more prepared for future events. If practice makes perfect, get as much practice as you can.Lastly, be yourself and try to have fun.

“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.”  

Christine Comaford-Lynch

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