We walk into a large room at Ivar’s Salmon House, located right by the water on Lake Union. It’s decorated with Native American woodcarvings, with the delicious aroma of tasty items permeating the space. After receiving our name tags, we wander in, nervously surveying the crowd of professionals dressed in business casual, wondering who we were going to talk to.
Earlier that day, we had a Professional Development session on working the room with certain do’s and don’ts. You do want to make relationships, not merely get job leads. You don’t want to be on your phone, as that signifies a disinterest in building relationships. Even tactics our cohort could use to keep each other engaged in the communal play of networking, like inviting our peers who get stuck in the dark room corner of awkward inhibition into a dialogue circle. We learned the trade secrets for effective room-working strategies.
Taking in mind what we learned, we walked up to strangers and set off to network.
Overall, I had five conversations with alums, business partners, and program volunteers. I focused on learning stories more than occupations, and asked questions that related to how someone got into his or her current context. I heard so many stories and received a lot of career advice that I was invigorated to start developing my own future. Simply being curious about someone more than evaluating the benefits of a relationship is one way I put the idea of networking into a positive light. As it turns out, I still benefited from my interactions and learned practical steps that will continue to polish me into becoming a professional. Next thing is to follow up with the people I spoke with and schedule conversations over coffee!