I’m in third year now and I have attended a few networking events. These events are usually full of professionals in the field and my peers. Networking is a fancy way of making friends. Literally, it is fancy because it is making friends in a professional manner. Now, the key word is professional. Your traditional way of making friends won’t work. It won’t work because you need to watch what we say and how we say it. Ted Rogers basically engraves all of its students with the skills of networking but what about the rest of the disciplines? People in STEM programs need it too. Especially since we are known for having the knowledge and skills, but don’t knowing how to articulate it. But this fancy form of socializing is crucial if you want to become a confident and well-rounded person. Confidence in your abilities and being well-rounded so you can speak to a wide range of people will not only help you get a job, but will help you figure out a path beyond your degree. So as per usual, I want to make this a quick and easy read with a list of baby steps you can take.
1. Practice makes perfect. The more events you go to, the more you will be exposed to the “real world.” Now I usually hate the use of this world but I find it applicable to this list. You may think your routine of going to class, studying and partying is the real world but it is only a small part of it. This routine will eventually come to an end and you don’t want to wait for that to happen before you expose yourself to the rest of the real world. When this routine ends, you don’t want to be frantically trying to “find yourself” and what you want to do with your degree. You should try to find yourself and develop your interests in and around your degree. So here are some resources for you to take advantage of and explore the Ryerson environment.
2. Be positive. First impressions count the most in professional settings. This will mean the difference between getting a business card or a handshake goodbye. I have personally seen so many awkward situations where students are caught complaining about other students, professors and the school. This only reflects badly on you because it means if you were to join their team/organization and something doesn’t go your way, you will in turn spread your negative views, Learn more about the power of positivity here.
Again, from experience, I know people appreciate positivity and can sense genuinity. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself!
3. Listen more, talk less. In any event, you will meet people who just want to talk your ear off. Just don’t be that person. When you speak less, you listen better. And actually listen. So many times I’ve seen people zone out in conversations and it reflects poorly on them as a person. I know someone who currently works for the Biomedical Zone at St.Michael’s hospital and has worked for numerous other organizations in the past, yet has never formally applied for a job. You might think that is too good to be true, but really it isn’t. More often now than ever before, managers are moving away from the traditional style of hiring employees.
4. Ask names. By learning names and actually remembering them, you will stand out from the crowd. Students usually don’t have business cards but making an effort to stay in contact will benefit you in the long run. Especially knowing people from an array of programs. Students often make the mistake of staying in a bubble and only making friends in their program. From experience, I can tell you that knowing and meeting people from different programs has helped me with my stress and anxiety. This is because they help put life into perspective. By understanding that everyone is on the same boat but are going in different directions you begin to feel confident in your own path.
5. Follow-up! Following up with them doesn’t guarantee you a job but will set you apart from everyone else. Whether by email, setting up a meeting or attending other events they might be a part of, staying connected will allow you to build your network.
I hope these tips help! I try to practice them as much as I can but I am guilty of inconsistency myself. So don’t be discouraged when you are unable to follow through with them. One of the best resources I can give you now is Ryerson’s Career Center. You might know this but you’ve already paid for their services through your tuition fees so why not use them? They offer workshops as well as one on one sessions to help you with your resume, cover letter and provide you with career advice.