Saturday, 27 August 2011

Networking - It’s All in Who you Know

I have made a lot of changes this year. I left my Event Coordinator position at Vancouver Film School. I worked out consistently every week and lost about 10lbs. I started to volunteer. And I started to network.

I'll be honest, initially, the thought of networking scared me to death. Going to an event by myself where I knew virtually no one was overwhelming and made me nervous. But you know what? I did it anyways. Know why? Because I wanted to get outside of my comfort zone and I wanted to face my fears head on. I also wanted to meet new people, discover opportunities and promote what I can offer to others.

Going into my first networking event, my heart was beating really fast and I got that anxious feeling right away. I decided to ignore it and introduce myself to the first person I saw. I told them my name and and gave them my background (otherwise know as an elevator pitch). They were more than happy to talk to me. We learned a lot about each other and also found out that we could both offer each other something. I then realized that this isn't so bad at all, in fact, I was really enjoying it. My confidence boosted from there and I started to talk to more and more great people. They were more than happy to help me, recommend opportunities and listen to what I had to offer and I was more than willing to do the same. After all, I love helping others and seeing them succeed.

After I attended a couple networking events, my fears slowly subsided. I still get nervous but not even close to as nervous as my first time. I would leave each event knowing that I connected with so many talented and successful people. People have told me that networking is really important to promote yourself, develop opportunities and build relationships but none of that really sinked in until recently. Individuals that I met were able to recommend me for positions that I applied for. I received an email from a colleague telling me about a job opportunity they thought it was perfect for me. Another person promoted me through email to all her contacts. After seeing all of this, I realized that these people that I met were there to help me because I took the time to get to know them and express what I had to offer them.

I do have to say that you shouldn't come into a networking event expecting a job offer, or someone that wants to buy your product/service. I think you should go in with an open mind and see what happens, that is what I did. I have gotten so much out of networking - increased confidence, a stronger network, increased self promotion' and much much more!

I highly recommend networking to anyone, whether you are looking for opportunities or just looking to meet great and interesting people. If you are in Vancouver, there is a website that I found that lists all the different networking groups in Vancouver -, check it out!

-Shira :)

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