What I’ve Learned When it Comes to Networking

There’s something to be said about how terrifying networking tends to be. If you’re meeting someone who can potentially be your future boss, you want to make sure you’re making a good impression and putting on your best face.  

Gloria Rivera standing on the Syracuse University campus
Gloria Rivera

I used to hate networking. I’m not saying I’m in love with it now, but I used to loathe having to speak to people about myself. What do I like (professionally)? How do I think (professionally)? The pressure was ON, and I felt ill-equipped to handle it. As I’ve put myself in more of these situations, I learned a little more about myself and how to handle the nerves. 

The first part of this is, truthfully, I really didn’t know what I liked. I like to write, and I like to talk about things like art. But how could I translate that into a professional setting and sound like I knew what I was talking about? The fact is most of the time these people really do just want to know about you. I know that might be hard to believe, but figuring out who you are and what you like is the first step to making networking easy. You’re getting to know someone, and they’re getting to know you. You’re not actually interviewing. Still be cautious-I wouldn’t necessarily talk about my Friday night plans-but it’s okay to talk about what you do in your program, what projects you’re working on and how you’ve been exploring your field of interest. People want to hear about these things and ultimately, it’s what makes you, you.  

The second part of this is to have some default questions. My favorites are: 

two people shaking hands
(Photo courtesy of Gloria Rivera)

Use these or come up with your own. But go into the meeting with some broad questions that can get someone to talk about themselves. It’ll be educational and helpful for you to know. Being prepped with questions will also make you feel more secure when entering the room. 

Lastly, but more importantly, hype yourself up! Nobody knows more about you than you. You’re there to listen and learn but when it’s time to talk about you remember that you’re talking about something that you know about. This is the field you’re an expert in! 

Gloria Rivera is a graduate student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program at the Newhouse School.