One important part of networking is how you present yourself to others. It’s important to be able to talk about yourself, your experiences and skills, and your interests and goals. Networking gives you the opportunity to practice your self-presentation and hone your story, and will give you the skills to interview with confidence.
Worried? Don’t think you have any experience? Relax. You can’t get this far and not have experience. You need to shift your thinking. Did you work on a group project? Did you start up some type of venture? Were you on a team for some sport or activity that shaped your thinking or work ethic? How did you transition into the new college environment Maybe you dealt with a tough life event. Everyone has at some point.
When everyone has a college degree, how do you differentiate yourself? Spend time developing your story. All the above experiences can provide a way to demonstrate your ability to perform to a potential employer. Framing these life stories leverages a wealth of valuable insights to your audience. Be ready to demonstrate your skills and abilities in your story and articulate how you can apply that learning to be successful in a new and different environment. Future employers are looking for how you handle ambiguity, respond to challenges, value differences, communicate in tough situations and handle the unexpected. It’s about applying what you know to what you don’t know.
Every time you meet someone you have an opportunity to put your best foot forward. Being grounded in your own story, including your peak experiences, core strengths and career interests, gives you the flexibility to make the most of a brief unexpected networking interaction or a more in-depth, long anticipated interview.
~Stephanie Meunier, ‘92
Human Resources Business Partner at Dealer.com