Networking. How many times have we been taught about this or told to do this in our collegiate careers? Far too many. How many times have we gone out and actually done it? For most students, exponentially less.
Networking just doesn’t sound appealing to most college students. Spending an evening of your time talking to “stuffy” professionals about careers isn’t high on our priority list, despite the fact that we’ll be looking for a job in less than two months.
However, through the networking event I attended at the Lodge, I learned networking doesn’t have to be a drag or awkward. Breaking the ice was a lot easier than I thought and talking to people was much more interesting than I anticipated.
The Buffalo Alumni Networking event invited alumni and current undergraduate and graduate students from the Buffalo area to pay $20, which included two drink tickets, a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, professional photos and resume critique sessions. Upon arrival, we were instructed to choose a sticker for our name tag that indicated whether we were looking to hire, actively seeking a job, moderately looking for a job or just there to “party.” I thought this system was a great way to easily identify those I should seek out to speak with.
I definitely attribute some of the success of this event to the location at which it was held. The Lodge is a new commodity in Buffalo and an appropriate venue for professionals and college students to enjoy themselves as well as, in this case, make professional connections.
Before attending this event, I sought out some advice from my dad. He suggested choosing three things that are both relevant and interesting to work into the conversation and to use those as fall backs if there were any moments of awkward silence. This advice proved to be sound, but I was surprised to only need it once. Seemingly irrelevant things served as great conversation starters. For instance, several people my roommate and I met remarked on her glasses and then we both struck up separate conversations with people. This just goes to show you never know what might start a conversation and that networking events don’t have to be stuffy, boring or uncomfortable.
When the event ended, we actually decided to stay at The Lodge because we truly were having a good time while also making some good connections.