Have you ever wondered what attending a networking event would be like? After three years as an undergraduate student in the School of Business, I am proud to say, I have finally attended my first networking event!
It’s a funny situation. Normally, I wouldn’t have attended the event. However, because I work for the Marketing Department and the event is hosted by the department, I was obligated to attend as a student and as the event photographer. Instead of being the one trying to persuade students to attend, I typically would have been the one being persuaded to attend. I found it to be a great experience.
Since I was the photographer, I got to the event early to set up and avoided the awkward early entrance. I was quite surprised with the first two students who arrived because they immediately started introducing themselves to each other and chatting. Professors started to enter the room and I saw networking skills at their finest. One professor walked in, immediately greeted those he knew, and proceeded to introduce himself to students he never spoke to before without hesitation. As more students began to arrive, I noticed there were many were outside of their comfort zone. However, this didn’t hold them back. No one awkwardly stood alone; everyone was constantly talking to someone!
As a student attendee and the photographer, I had the ability both to jump into conversations and to observe as a fly on the wall. It is definitely intimidating to walk up to a group of people already chatting, to interrupt, and to introduce yourself, but if you watch a networking event, everybody does it – it’s the norm. Whether I was the one walking up to a group or I was in the group and someone joined, no one was ever turned away.
Personally, I love talking to people and listening to what they have to say. My biggest fear is being ignored and being the odd one out. I think many people have the same fear. In the beginning of a networking event, you may feel a little out of place and inclined to leave, but if you gather the courage to walk up and talk to someone, you will realize it is not as bad as it seems. Everyone at a networking event is there to meet people and they are probably as nervous as you are about being in a situation where they don’t know anyone.
After my first networking experience, I’ve learned it is better to be the conversation starter. You not only help yourself out of the uncomfortable situation, but you also help someone else out of their situation. Would you rather stand alone in a corner for two hours or would you rather chat with a bunch of people for two hours? I know my answer! Do you know yours?
Jacqueline Ho ’17
Student Communications Specialist, Marketing Department, UConn School of Business
Jacqueline Ho is a senior studying Communication and Marketing. She works on campus at the Dean of Students Office in Wilbur Cross and in the Marketing Department at the School of Business. A fun fact about Jacqueline is that she started at UConn as an Animal Science major on a pre-vet track.