Season’s greetings! Holiday parties, both professional and personal are upon us. Naturally, there is merriment and desserts, but these gatherings also serve as great networking opportunities. Former associate and now full-time Startup Institute New York employee, Lucia Knell, shares her own experience about networking her way to a job.
I was first introduced to Startup Institute as a concept and community somewhat unexpectedly at a dinner party.
By chance, I started talking to someone; a friend of a friend who, upon hearing of my interest in the startup community, connected me to an employee at Startup Institute. This employee happened to be the director, and therefore the hiring manager, who was looking to fill an associate position immediately.
I did my research beforehand by visiting the company’s website, reviewing LinkedIn and reading the director’s professional site. I went in to interview on a Wednesday and by the weekend a decision was made. I would hit the ground running on Monday morning. I say this because in the course of a week and a half, I went from not knowing where I was heading career-wise to diving into a full-time gig in a new field.
Aside from the thrill of starting a new job was my realization (one that resurfaces again and again) that you really do not know who you will meet until you start attending events. For me, it is hard to say where I would be right now had I not chosen to attend this dinner party; and subsequently not met that particular person on that particular night, and so on and so forth.
I share this story in hopes of shedding light on how important it is to just get yourself out there. Here are a few tips on networking at your next party and possibly increasing your chances of career serendipity.
Set a goal. Leaving a party without engaging with someone is a no-no. Have a plan of interacting with three new individuals and swap contact information where appropriate.
Use the buddy system. If you are nervous or feel overwhelmed when networking, bring a friend or colleague along. Divide and conquer by having someone do introductions and the other assist with casual banter.
Take a risk and introduce yourself. Do something that scares you! If you tend to stay in the corner, try to approach someone. Start with a smile, giving a compliment, or asking a question.
You never know who might be looking for their next team member. So go to events, meetups, dinners, parties, etc. and meet new people. Happy networking and happy holidays!
Leave more networking tips and suggestions in the comments below.
Lucia Knell is the Program Manager at Startup Institute New York. Get in touch with her via email at lucia [at] startupinstitute.com.