Let Me Introduce Myself07 Mar. 2012
Professional networking is one of the most important business rituals any young adult will, and should, experience, as they enter the working world. Unfortunately, many universities and colleges, which are the gateway into this world, fail to teach the skills needed to succeed in this important practice. Professors are quick to mention that, “making connections is key;” however, they often forget to explain how to do so.
With the completion of my NYU Masters degree in sight, I knew that it was time I focused on my career path. Combining what I had learned in my many years in university and the discussions I had had with my program director, I had a sense of where I wanted to be. I knew that my goal was to end up in the tech industry. I did not, however, have a darn clue how to get there.
Then, one faithful day, as I was checking my perks on Klout.com, I noticed that I had been offered a ticket to Business Insider’s Social Commerce Summit. I was not quite sure what this event was about, but I could tell from scanning the list of speakers that it was an event I couldn’t pass up. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t exactly sure what social commerce was, or how it worked, but I thought I could just learn as I went. This was an opportunity for me to practice my networking skills (or lack there of) so I figured I would just go with it. Why not, right?
A few weeks later, the day arrived, and so did I.
Considering it was the first networking event I had ever been to, I wasn’t really sure how prompt one was supposed to be to such a thing. It turns out that showing up 5 minutes after the event is supposed to start isn’t completely necessary (better safe than sorry!) My punctuality was an opportunity to visit the company booths that had been set up outside of the main presentation hall. Being early wasn’t so bad because it gave me the chance to really capture the attention of the people at these displays.
I set my targets to the table directly across from me. Seated there were two very nice looking gentlemen. One seemed to be reasonably within my age-range, so I decided to focus on him. He was the ideal practice point for my first networking conversation, because he probably experienced the same thing not too long ago.
I began by introducing myself and asking about the company he represented. The conversation seemed to be going well as he had no qualms about teasing me for my Canadian heritage. My nerves began to ease and I felt as if I was talking to a friend. I continued to chat with him until he introduced me to his partner at the table, and my focused moved to him.
Feeling extremely comfortable, I joked with this guy as well, asking him to give me his “elevator speech,” because he could practice on me. I was only student at the event, I had told him, and he didn’t have to impress me. I realized I had let my ‘professional attitude” slip to the wayside during this networking interaction, but having never heard of the company before, I wasn’t too worried. After thanking them for their time, I continued to investigate the crowd.
It wasn’t until halfway through the event, when the CEO, Jonty Kelt, stepped onto the stage for his one-on-one interview (something that most speakers weren’t offered) that I realized what I had done. The two gentlemen I had practice my networking skills on were representing one of the most important companies at the event. They were from Group Commerce, the biggest sponsor of the event, and the hottest new eCommerce platforms in the industry. They had huge clients like DailyCandy and The New York Times.
It then hit me that I may have something of a fool out of myself in front of some of the most important people at the event! I had joked about being from Toronto, “The Canadian New York.” I had also told one of them to practice his networking skills on me, something he obviously didn’t need to do.
It wasn’t until one of the later coffee breaks that I ran into one of the two GC guys. To be honest, I was trying to avoid both of them, in the hopes of not reminding them of my idiocy. I debated slinking off into a corner to hide myself- and my shame. Unfortunately, the younger of the two was coming my way, and I had nowhere to run.
It was almost as if I had been dreaming, because, instead of being laughed, at or mocked, or banished from the event (which I had considered as a plausible outcome for my networking failure) he came up to me with a giant smile and said,
“We need you to work for us.”
And so, with that, I’d like to introduce myself as Jessica Grossman, the new marketing intern for Group Commerce.
Sometimes it takes more than networking skills to make professional connections. It turns out that my personality and jovial attitude (in tandem with my previous experience and skills, of course) had made me a fit for this company.
It is not hard to see why I fit here because the environment is just as friendly and as intelligent as the two individuals I had made a connection with at the event. I had gotten along with them because I had let my personality out, which ultimately showed them that I belonged here. If I had really practiced my networking skills and focused on a professional attitude, I would not have joined the team or experienced free lunch Mondays, company talent shows, and visits from Randall the dog.
In the coming weeks, I will be very busy here at Group Commerce. I’ve learned some exciting things that are happening within the company as it approaches its 1st anniversary.
Thanks for adding me to the team!« back to the Blog