Often beginning with a single point of common ground, networking is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. In a professional environment, networking allows you to connect with individuals you may not have met before or reconnect with others who you might not have seen for some time.
I was just like every other student that would sit and listen to industry professionals and find their stories intriguing, but never actioned what they said.
Until recently, I didn’t realise the impact that networking could have within a university environment.
As a Western Sydney University School of Business student, I was invited to be part of their Executive Mentoring Program. I convinced myself not to go because I had never been to a networking event, and I didn’t know what to expect. When I am put into an environment I don’t know, I can become nervous and anxious. After talking to family and friends they persuaded me to get out of my comfort zone, highlighting that there could be many opportunities to come from it.
While I was on the train to Parramatta City Campus, I had a pit in my stomach. I was nervous and uneasy. I listened to my music to try and centre myself and focus on the positives. I kept rethinking that I am not going to know anyone and I’m going to look lonely and silly.
I got off the train and starting walking to campus only to realise I was walking in the complete wrong direction. Great start hey! That made me feel even more anxious, as I worried, I was going to be late.
On my arrival, I recognised some students from previous classes that I reconnected with, which put me at ease and suddenly, it didn’t seem so daunting. I was still nervous as I didn’t know what we would be doing or who we would be meeting.
I was able to connect with students and industry professionals and felt inspired by the conversations that I had. On the day, I met Kristie Atkins, one of the Managing Partners at customer acquisition and retention marketing company, Wink. Kristie was one of my mentors at the event. We chatted through the event, and at the end of my mentoring session I handed her my resume and chatted further. I was nervous to hand Kristie my resume, although she is lovely, I wasn’t sure if she would like what I had to say.
The next day we connected on LinkedIn. I was keen to reach out as I believe it’s important to follow up after meeting someone. I mentioned that it was lovely to meet her and that I got a lot out of the day. From here, an opportunity was presented to me that I did not think was possible.
Kristie mentioned that the Wink team was looking to recruit another marketer to the team and introduced me to General Manager Jo Rao who was looking after the recruitment. I was able to begin building a professional relationship with Jo.
After emails back and forth and virtual meetings because of Sydney lockdown, I was given the opportunity to become part of the Wink team. Although I felt ready to start and learn more about marketing, I was super nervous to start.
Never in a million years did I think I would have a job in the industry I wanted to be in, while still studying! Before it happened, I would sit in classes hearing about how important networking and reaching out to industry professionals is, but I always thought “yeah right”.
Let me tell you something now, do not be reactive. Be proactive. It may be scary at first but trust me, networking is important and making the right connections, makes all the difference.