Generally, when I mention the word “networking” to students, a look of sheer panic fills their eyes. It’s as if I asked them to recite the Declaration of Independence or some obscure Shakespeare passage. As a Career Counselor, I am a huge advocate of networking, but as a Millennial myself, I understand the uncomfortable feeling of actually talking to a stranger in person, or even worse, over the phone (and I’m generally using a land line, yes, they still exist).
Over the course of my various career coaching/counseling appointments with students, I found myself trying to convince them that networking really wasn’t that bad and then, all of a sudden, it hit me (I knew that look of pure panic looked vaguely familiar). Networking was a lot like dating. You know that moment when you think that guy or girl is kind of cute? Maybe you’re in class or out with friends, and you’re just not sure exactly how to approach the situation. “Should I say something, or no? What would I even say? Maybe they won’t like me. Why did I wear this stupid shirt?” I noticed a lot of my clients were having the same if not similar reactions/questions when I was encouraging them to network. “What am I supposed to even say? Why would they want to even talk to me? I feel annoying. Can I wear this shirt?”
My epiphany inspired me to write this series. To give you a little preview, the next few posts are as follows and will appear weekly:
- The Initial Approach (parts I and II)
- The First Date
- The Courtship
- Let’s go steady
Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll hit two birds with one stone here.
What are some aspects about networking that freak you out? What are some tips, for those of you who feel comfortable networking, you would give to green networkers?
Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.