A Network of Experiences

It may be hard to wake up early and get ready to get on the metro to get downtown in the mornings, but it really is worth it in the end. Looking back at my position so far, I am really learning a lot. Up until now, I have realized how essential networking is. We had an event last month. It was a reception focused on fostering economic ties between Arab and American businessmen and women. My job that night was to mingle with the guests and to collect as many business cards as I could. Once it was over, I ended up collecting over 200 cards and probably 500 combined with what the other interns and co-workers got. It was surprising, but it reinforced how it really is about “who you know and not what you know”. I really do believe that connections are what get you far in life.

Looking back, these are a few tips that I learned that helped me to survive through the night:

1. Say your name clearly because you want them to know how to say it correctly throughout your conversation, and also to remember who you are.

2. Shake hands, but always make sure it is a firm handshake- it says a lot about who you are, especially about your confidence.

3. Use an “elevator” speech: describe who you are or what you do in ten seconds or less. This allowed me to keep it short and sweet, but to make a good first impression as well.

4. The best way to introduce yourself I found was starting with small talk.

5. Don’t stay too long talking with one person, try and meet other people. The more the merrier.

After an event, your networking doesn’t stop! The following week, I had to compile all of the business cards and input the contact information of each individual into an excel spreadsheet. Why? Because it is also important to keep in contact with those that you have met. That is why the database will most likely come in handy for the organization that I intern for. They will use it to contact companies and individuals for future endeavors and business opportunities they want to pursue.

It was a very interesting and fun life learning experience, definitely one that has prepared me for the “real world”. Oh and by the way, I am still working on that database and it has been exactly a month!