How You Can Network Anywhere

How You Can Network Anywhere

Dr. JG turned to me and said “I heard you speaking about your work and interests in international affairs. I do similar work and would be willing to share with you some opportunities in that field. Here is my business card.” Dr. JG’s statement is an example of professional networking. Dr. JG happened to be in the same Uber pool as me that afternoon. On our ride to Takoma, I was talking to a friend about my experiences in D.C., and Dr. JG happened to be listening. An experience like this can happen anywhere, and mine just happened to take place in an Uber.

 

Courtesy of dreamstime.com

 

My encounter with Dr. JG challenged my perspective of networking with people in higher positions. For one, it is a misconception that young professionals are better off networking with those who work entry-level positions. Many other professionals will agree that any professional who is working in your field of interest could be a potential connection. If you are still on the fence about networking, please read on for tips you can develop and/or exhibit to build long-lasting and meaningful relationships.

Tip 1: Be Attentive
It was getting really late when I was calling my Uber. My feet were sore from walking, and I had little energy to begin with. The moment I got into the Uber, Dr. JG was talking to another passenger about her experiences traveling abroad. Even though I was mentally and physically exhausted, I told myself to tune into their conversation. In any network setting, take the time to observe the conversations that are taking place, the body language of others and their emotions. If you immerse yourself in the setting, then you also become a network source for others. Evidently, the lesson here is that if I had chosen to remain inattentive to the conversation, I would not have made a connection with Dr. JG.

 

Courtesy of dreamstime.com

 

Tip 2: Be Confident
I have to admit, it took me a while to get engaged in the conversation. I kept asking myself, “why should I share my personal story with complete strangers?" Yet, there was more to the conversation then I originally assumed. About ten minutes into the ride, I realized that I had to break my silence. Dr. JG and the passenger were so joyful and full of life speaking about their interests. I too, wanted to immerse in that joy. Though before I spoke, I had to believe that my voice mattered. In this case, it was seeing past my flaws and doubts, and acting on my potential (which is easier said than done). A key ingredient here is confidence, which is the ability to say yes to the inner voice that often says no. In other words, if you desire a connection with someone, be in control of the conversation and do not let the conversation control you!

Tip 3: Be Open-Minded
After Dr. JG had given me his business card, I had a mix of emotions running through me. I was excited and nervous but more surprised; thinking to myself “how did this happen?” An Uber pool setting is not an ideal networking scene, but somehow Dr. JG was able to see past my reebok sneakers, overworn t-shirt and sweaty forehead. The few words that we exchanged among us were enough for Dr. JG to hand me a business card. The reality of the situation is that one should always be open-minded while networking. There is always fifty-fifty chance that you may or may not gain this relationship. Luckily for me, connecting with Dr. JG was unintentional and surprisingly successful. Thus, as you network with professionals, be open-minded to the possibilities that follow thereafter.

Our Connection Today
The connection that I have with Dr. JG has turned into something quite extraordinary. In the little amount of time that we have known each other, I have learned so much about myself--such as, things that I want to do for my career and things that I do not want to do. I now refer to Dr. JG as my mentor and life coach. Certainly, the mentor-mentee relationship is a natural one and definitely occurs by chance. My networking experience in an Uber pool is random, but it reveals the secret of networking - it can happen at any place, time, or day. In a city like D.C., take advantage of networking. First, allow yourself to live in harmony with those around you. Be in tune with the conversations around you, and learn to share your joys as well. Second, always be confident in your ability to showcase your efforts and/or purpose. Finally, allow yourself to be open-minded about your experiences. Developing or exhibiting these behaviors can benefit you through the experience of networking.

 

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